Energy crisis: 500,000 Britons to cut back on food to pay bills as fuel poverty worsens

Martin Lewis warns of 'damaging' energy price cap rise

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Citizens Advice Scotland is sounding the alarm that fuel poverty across the country is worsening as families are being faced with impossible decisions when it comes to their livelihood. In a survey conducted by YouGov, commissioned by Citizens Advice, it was found that 36 percent of people in Scotland find their bills unaffordable. Furthermore, 54 percent of people polled said they are cutting back on household spending over the holiday season.

Some 56 percent of respondents said they were specifically cutting back on certain groceries in response to soaring energy bills and growing fuel poverty.

On top of this, 49 percent said they have cut back on eating or drinking out to save money, while 47 percent have stopped ordering takeaways in.

Citizens Advice has released these figures as part of its Big Energy Saving Winter campaign, which aims to assist people by giving them advice on their energy bills and how to pay them.

Earlier this week, it was announced that inflation had hit 5.1 percent, representing a ten-year high.

This comes as the wider energy market in the UK has faced crisis after crisis, beginning with multiple suppliers ceasing operations after massive increases to the energy price cap.

Furthermore, the Government has removed crucial pandemic-era benefits to assist struggling households in times of need, such as the £20 uplift to Universal Credit payments.

Derek Mitchell, the Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, outlined what the organisation’s research has exposed about the country’s financial state in the past year.

Mr Mitchell explained: “This shocking analysis lays out the reality of the cost of living crisis in Scotland today.

“An estimated half a million people are cutting back on their weekly food shop to afford soaring energy bills, and this should have alarm bells ringing.

“We’ve seen a perfect storm this winter. Rising energy bills, increasing inflation and cuts to people’s incomes from the £20 reduction in Universal Credit.

“People will be facing challenges but the CAB network’s message to them is you are not alone.

“You don’t need to feel powerless about rising energy bills, we’re here to help with free, impartial and confidential advice.

“Last year we unlocked £147 million in gains for people, and helped over 171,000 people. We’ve been helping people for over 80 years and we’re here to help now.”

As well as their new campaign, Citizens Advice is also calling for reform of the energy market in light of the larger fuel poverty crisis.

The industry regulator Ofgem has recently put forward proposals to reform the retail energy market announced today, which include a package of measures to boost financial resilience in the sector and financial stress testing for all suppliers from January.

Reacting to these proposals, Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Reform of the energy market is urgently needed.

“Ofgem’s failure to adequately regulate the sector left it vulnerable to recent price spikes, with the subsequent collapse of 26 firms leaving bill payers facing a multi-billion pound bill.

“Ofgem is right to prioritise building sustainable and resilient business models that can withstand increases in wholesale gas prices.

“Everyone should be able to trust their energy supplier is fit to operate.”

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