Winter’s icy blast brings concerns about conditions outside but for many local people, the high bills that come with keeping their homes warm are a major worry.
Fuel poverty – the term used to describe being unable to afford a reasonable level of heat and power – is a significant problem, with the latest figures classing more than a third of Scottish households as being in fuel poverty and ten per cent as being in extreme fuel poverty.
The Scottish Government figures, broken down by local authority area for the three years to 2014, show that 28 per cent of households in Falkirk are in fuel poverty and seven per cent in extreme poverty.
There are wide variations across Scotland, with the highest level in the Orkney Islands at 63 per cent compared to 25 per cent in Edinburgh. The Orkney Islands also recorded the highest level of extreme fuel poverty at 30 per cent, with the lowest, five per cent, in West Lothian.
The national average for fuel poverty is 35 per cent (845,000 households) and ten per cent for extreme fuel poverty.
The Scottish Government and local authorities have a responsibility to eradicate fuel poverty. In some areas of the country, the situation has improved but in other areas efforts have been outstripped by factors such as fuel price rises and falls in household income, pushing fuel poverty levels up.
Fuel poverty charity Energy Action Scotland believes the figures are unacceptably high.
Norman Kerr, director, said: “Far too many people across Scotland are worried about affording their energy bills or are simply cold at home. It would be easy to think that the problem of cold, damp and unaffordable to heat homes can’t be solved, but it can.
“It’s really important that householders take action to make their homes more energy efficient and take advice on how to get a better deal for their energy and on how to use energy wisely in the home.
“Local and national government must make resources available to people to get advice and other support where it is needed to achieve warm homes for all.”