Charity calls for action on “seriously underestimated” old-age fuel poverty

Stop the Great Fuel Robbery - London, UK 16.02.2013

More than two-thirds of Scottish pensioner couple households are now living in fuel poverty, a leading old age charity has warned.

Age Scotland has called for the government to act after the Scottish House Condition Survey revealed the extent of fuel poverty among Scotland’s elderly and warned that previous findings may have “seriously underestimated” the problem.

The new figures revealed in the report show that in 2013, there were more than a quarter of a million pensioner couple households (258,000) living in fuel poverty – almost double the figure presented in 2012.

Greg McCracken, Age Scotland’s Policy Officer said that the findings might impact on the government’s ability to deliver on their promises to older people.

“These figures are shocking and wholly unacceptable in a nation as economically and energy rich as Scotland,” he said. “Clearly, governments in both Edinburgh and London need to invest far more to improve the energy efficiency of our existing housing stock.

“It’s difficult to imagine how the Scottish Government’s target to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016 might be achieved.”

Using a new methodology to measure the findings more accurately, the report found that levels of fuel poverty among Scotland’s older population are far higher than previously feared. The new figures represent an eight per-cent rise (36,000 households) from 2012 – double the rate for the wider population.

Age Scotland say that the findings evidence older people’s greater vulnerability to the factors which lead to fuel poverty; principally rising fuel prices and typically fixed incomes. Mr McCracken warned that with fuel costs continuing to rise, the problem could continue to worsen in the coming months.

He said: “Given these figures only go up to 2013 and with energy costs having increased over the intervening period, it is highly likely that today’s levels of fuel poverty will be even worse than those presented in the report.”

Figures show that around 66 per cent of single pensioner households are also fuel poor.

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