More Scots Set to Freeze as Fuel Poverty Rises



ISSUED DATE: 21 January 2020


More Scots Set to Freeze as Fuel Poverty Rises

One quarter of all households in Scotland are now living in fuel poverty according to the Scottish House Condition Survey released today by the Scottish Government.

The number of households living in cold, damp homes and making daily decisions between heating and eating has risen by a shocking 36,000.

The Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS) found that the total number of households living in fuel poverty was 618,000 in 2018, up from 583,000 households the previous year though the number of households in extreme fuel poverty fell from 293,000 to 279,000.

Responding to the new figures, Norman Kerr OBE, Director of Energy Action Scotland said,

“Energy Action Scotland are hugely disappointed that the work to tackle fuel poverty has had so little effect to date. That one quarter of households in Scotland are struggling to maintain a warm home, to cook food or heat water to wash is staggering in an energy producing country as wealthy as ours.

“Scottish Government has made great progress in restoring focus on fuel poverty as a national priority but clearly we need much more investment and action to tackle high bills and hard to heat homes.

“Scotland has already failed in its target to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016. The new target of reducing fuel poverty levels to 5% by 2040 is going to require us to do much more, better and faster if we are to save another generation from living in cold, damp homes.”


For further information contact:

Kate Cunningham, Energy Action Scotland 07880 733644 or

Editors Notes

  1. Energy Action Scotland is the national organisation working with Government and energy companies to end to fuel poverty and create warm, dry homes for all in Scotland.
  2. Fuel poverty is the inability to afford adequate warmth in the home, currently defined as needing to pay more than 10% of income on energy costs. People living in extreme fuel poverty pay more than 20% of income on energy costs.
  3. The main causes of fuel poverty are poor energy efficiency of the home, high domestic fuel prices and low household income.
  4. EAS campaigns for policy to acknowledge the particular difficulties faced by the fuel poor in rural areas. Higher fuel costs, lack of access to the mains gas grid, premiums on energy, a challenging housing stock and difficulty getting companies delivering energy efficiency measures to operate in some areas are a few of the difficulties faced. Consumers in rural areas off the gas grid can pay significantly more for the same fuel sold in urban areas. EAS believes that the reason behind this discrepancy in price can be attributed, in some part, to the lack of regulation of most rural heating fuels. Regulation is therefore needed on domestic fuels such as heating oils, solid fuels, and LPG.
  5. Scottish Government Scottish House Condition Survey released 21st January 2020 – Scottish House Condition Survey: 2018 Key Findings
  6. There has been little change in the fuel poverty rate over the past 3 years, but there has been a reduction from the peak of 31.7% or 761,000 households in 2013. Levels of extreme fuel poverty have been decreasing since the peak in 2013 of 16.0%, or 384 000 households.
  7. In 2018, 25.0% of households (619,000) were estimated to be in fuel poverty, a similar level to 2017 (23.7% or 583,000 households). 11.3% (or 279,000 households) were living in extreme fuel poverty in 2018. This follows a period of annual decreases since 2013 and is the lowest rate recorded by the survey since 2012, the first year of data available under the new definition.
  8. Larger urban areas saw an increase in fuel poverty from 21% in 2017 to 25% in 2018. Levels of extreme fuel poverty were higher in rural areas (17%) compared to urban areas (10%) in 2018.
  9. Rates of fuel poverty differed between the social (39%) and private sector (20%) in 2018. These are similar rates to those in 2017 although households who owned outright saw an increase in fuel poverty rates with 23% estimated to be in fuel poverty compared to 18% in 2017.
  10. Around half (49%) of fuel poor households are adults without children (other) households. Around 15% of households living in fuel poverty are families with children, and 36% are older households. 43% of fuel poor households are owner occupiers, 41% are social housing residents and the remaining 16% rent in the private sector.
  11. The first set of fuel poverty estimates fully compatible with all of the elements of the new definition in the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Act are expected to be published in December 2021.

NOTE: Free event for Scotland’s Landlords

As the national fuel poverty charity, Energy Action Scotland works with Government and partners to improve affordable heat and energy efficiency in homes.

The increasing numbers of people living in rented accommodation, Energy Action Scotland supported by the SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust will be hosting a breakthrough conference on Thursday 23rd January at the Glasgow Marriott which will focus on the future regulation of energy efficiency in private rented sector (PRS) homes across Scotland.

The event is for PRS landlords, whether they are owners of one or of multiple properties, to introduce and facilitate their engagement with national and local services delivering energy efficiency measures that will both improve the EPC rating and provide warm, dry homes for many tenants in the sector. The event will also support wider awareness of those services providing advice and education, raising awareness of wise energy use in the home which is key to achieving good energy habits and tackling a key contributor to fuel poverty, which causes misery and ill health for a quarter of households in Scotland.

This conference will provide PRS landlords with an understanding that these services can in some cases be free or delivered for a modest investment for what is likely to be a huge return in benefits such as the avoidance of dampness and the retention of sustained healthy tenancies which has positive outcomes for everyone.