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Fuel Bank Foundation Is Helping Scottish Households With The Cost-Of-Living Crisis This Winter

December 13, 2023

Fuel Bank Foundation Is Helping Scottish Households With The  Cost-Of-Living Crisis This Winter Featured Image

Imagine living without heat, light, and power for essential appliances and medical equipment. Sadly, this is the grim reality facing millions of low-income and vulnerable households in Scotland this winter.

By Matthew Cole, Head of Fuel Bank Foundation

As I write, it is -5 degrees Celsius in parts of Scotland. Candle-lit cosy nights make winter feel special, but not if candles are your only source of heat and light.

As temperatures drop, the days get shorter, and the need for energy increases, there will be a huge surge in the number of people living in Dickensian conditions: no heating, hot water or warm meals, no washing machine and no lighting. Consequently, many children and adults will become physically, or mentally ill, and existing illnesses will worsen. Those with a critical need for energy will be exposed to significant risk.

For people who pre-pay for energy but can’t afford to, such as those with a prepayment gas and/or electricity meter or those who are off the gas grid and rely on alternative fuels, Fuel Bank Foundation offers a vital lifeline, by providing a crisis fuel top-up to get them warm and well again.

Since launching in 2015, we have helped almost 1.2m people across the UK. Thanks to the support of the Scottish Government, we have been able to help almost 200,000 people in Scotland, including more than 70,000 children.

We all know that energy prices are at an historic high and are set to remain so for the foreseeable future. The UK also has the least energy efficient homes in western Europe.

High energy prices and the cost-of-living crisis are having a major impact on the lives of people across Scotland and the rest of the UK. The following comment from one of our clients succinctly sums up the detrimental effects they are having.

"If I wasn't paying extra for electricity and gas, I would have a bit more for food. But now it's eating into my food allowance because it has gone up. I normally go 2 or 3 days without eating and then I have a main meal later in the afternoon or night, depending on how hungry I am."
Fuel Bank Client

So how do we tell people that if they just hang in there for a few years, energy prices will (hopefully) be lower and their homes will be better insulated, and they’ll be warm then?

At Fuel Bank Foundation, we believe a national energy efficiency programme is the most sustainable way to make sure people can afford to heat their homes. We have been calling (for a long time now) on the UK Government to urgently invest in this.

Doing so would achieve three things: reduce the amount of energy needed to keep homes warm; help to deliver on our Net Zero targets; and reduce our reliance on foreign energy sources.

Unfortunately, however, until this happens, which doesn’t look likely anytime soon, we will continue to need crisis fuel support in the short-term. It isn’t a choice of having one or the other, we desperately need both.

We sincerely thank the Scottish Government for supporting us to help those people in Scotland who have nowhere else to turn. They have fallen through every other safety net and are beginning to think that having a warm home is a luxury they simply can’t afford.

If you think that we can work together to change this, please get in touch.

‘Article originally published in Holyrood Magazine on 11th December 2023’