Thousands of Scots face poverty as massive energy bill increases take effect from today



Thousands of households across Scotland will be plunged into poverty today as families are hit with a raft of cost increases.

The cost of electricity and gas will increase by a record average of 54 per cent leaving Scots left to foot at £1,971 rise in their energy bills.

Unions, charities and opposition parties have warned any increase in pay and benefits this year will be swallowed up by higher bills and inflation.

National Insurance contributions will also be hiked from April 6.

The energy market is regulated by the UK Government which has so far ignored calls to reduce or remove VAT on household bills.

Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, claimed Boris Johnson had left Scots “out in the cold”.

The MP said: “The energy price hike will deliver a devastating body blow to millions of households across the UK that are already on the ropes due to the spiraling Tory cost-of-living crisis.

“Rather than heeding the warnings and bringing forward real support, the Chancellor and Prime Minister have instead turned their backs on people and left them out in the cold.

“The reality of the energy price hike – which will pile on around £700 on average to bills – is that those on low incomes and people struggling to make ends meet will be pushed over the brink into unmanageable levels of debt and hardship.

“There are already grim warnings that food bank users are having to choose food based on whether they can afford the energy to boil it, people are having to skip meals, and households are struggling over whether they can turn on the heating at all.”

The SNP MP added: “Boris Johnson and his broken government are completely detached from the realities of families struggling with the soaring costs of living.”

Anas Sarwar claimed the UK Government’s response to the rising cost of living had been “woeful”.

The Scottish Labor leader said: “People are about to be hit by the worst cost of living crisis in decades.

“The Tory government’s woeful response won’t even make a dent in spiraling bills, and their senseless tax hike will pile on added pressure.

“They are shown once and for all who’s side they are on, by standing with oil and gas giants making £44,000 of profits a minute rather than households trying to put food on the table.

“This callous and out of touch Tory government doesn’t seem to know or care about the impossible choices people are facing.

“This is a national emergency – tinkering around the edges isn’t good enough.”

Citizens Advice Scotland has urged people to get in touch if they are worried about their bills rising.

Michael O’Brien, the charity’s energy spokesman, said: “It’s important to understand that lots of people were already struggling before this latest increase in bills, with one in three of us finding energy bills unaffordable.

“That’s led to some difficult spending choices for households, with almost 500,000 cutting back on food to deal with unaffordable energy costs.

“Our message to people today is they aren’t alone, and to seek advice.

“The CAB network has been helping people for 80 years, and last year advisers unlocked £147million for people.

“With the crisis in the energy market meaning switching isn’t really an option, the key thing is getting more money in your pocket through checks to see if there is any money you are entitled to but missing out on.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “We understand that people are struggling with the rising cost of living – we can’t shield everyone from the global challenges we face but we’re putting billions of pounds back into the pockets of hard-working families across the UK.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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