Seven out of ten Scots are worried about affording their energy bills and many are already going cold in their own homes due to rocketing energy prices.
An exclusive poll also found 65% of people have rationed their energy use – even before a bombshell energy price rise kicks in.
Scots face an “awful April” due to energy bills soaring by nearly £700 and national insurance contributions also shooting up.
Water bill rises, council tax increases and rail fare hikes will pile further pressure on hard-pressed Scots.
This is on top of the Tory Government taking money away from the low income Scots by cutting Universal Credit.
A new poll for Advice Direct Scotland, carried out by Survation, reveals the full extent of the hardship facing most households.
According to the findings, 70% of people are worried about being able to pay their gas and electricity bills this year.
Nearly two-thirds of Scots said they had already limited their energy use in the past 12 months to spend money in other areas, including food.
Of those people rationing their energy use, 86% said they felt cold in their own home due to turning off heating.
The poll of 1,008 people was conducted between January 26 and 28 – before the energy price cap hike was announced.
Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of ADS, said:
“This stark poll demonstrates the scale of the cost-of-living crisis in Scotland.
“Thousands of households are already rationing their energy use so that they can afford necessities such as food. And, as a result, many are cold in their own homes.
“The looming energy price hike is causing considerable anxiety, with 70 per cent of Scots worried about affording their bills.
“Nobody has to suffer alone, and anyone concerned about their energy bills should get in touch with us for expert, practical advice.”
The crisis has sparked a political row over the actions taken by the Scottish and UK Governments.
SNP politicians believe Westminster controls the main levers to help Scots and have demanded urgent action.
Labor have called for a windfall tax on big oil and gas firms – a policy that could be implemented at a UK Government level – but also urged Nicola Sturgeon to rethink water and rail fare rises.
Scottish Labor leader Anas Sarwar said: “These bleak figures drive home the need for urgent action to tackle the growing cost of living crisis.
“People are already at crisis point, with things set to get even worse – but Scotland is being failed by two governments failing to act.
“The Tories’ buy now, pay later scheme is an insult to those struggling to get by.
“Meanwhile, the SNP government would prefer to comment on the cost of living crisis than act on it, refusing to back Labour’s plans for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies profiting from this crisis.
“Labour’s plan to tackle energy bills would save £200 for most households in Scotland and £600 for the households hardest hit by the cost of living crisis.”
John Dickie of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland said:
“It’s outrageous that in energy rich Scotland so many families are already feeling cold in their own homes. Low income families have faced a decade of UK cuts to benefits and now face eye-watering price rises.
He said: “The top priority for the UK government must be to increase family benefits and universal credit in line with actual inflation from 1 April – at least 6% not the planned 3.1%.
“Here in Scotland the Scottish child payment is providing vital support and it’s doubling for under sixes from April is more welcome than ever.
“But more is needed to support families staying afloat. Doubling bridging payments for children over 5 and pressing on with the roll out of free school meals to all primary pupils are two ways Holyrood Ministers could relieve the pressure.”
Peter Kelly of the Poverty Alliance said: “People on low incomes across the country are being caught up in a rising tide of hardship, with the cost of living crisis combining with an inadequate social security system threatening to pull them deeper into poverty.
“The majority of Scots worrying about paying their energy bills just cannot be right, and action must be taken by all levels of government to protect households from the grip of poverty, through short-term measures like a 6% increase in benefits in line with inflation and the redesigning of our society so that each of us has enough to live a decent life.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Households across Scotland and the UK face a hugely challenging increase in energy bills without urgent, targeted intervention from the UK Government.
“The Scottish Government is using all powers and resources available to us to support people through the cost of living crisis. However, powers relating to the energy markets remain reserved and we have repeatedly called for the UK Government to urgently take further, tangible actions to support households.
“We are concerned that the majority of the measures announced last week are not sufficiently targeted to provide support to those who need it most, and that the proposed £200 rebate is too little too late, applying 6 months after the coming price rise in April. .”
To sign up to the Daily Record Politics newsletter, click here.