“Even before the energy crisis people living in social housing were more likely to be in fuel poverty than those who own their home, largely due to tenants’ lower income levels”, said Councillor Kenny MacLaren (SNP – Paisley Northwest), commenting on a submission from the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) to the Scottish Parliament’s Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee inquiry into rising energy prices.
In a submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee inquiry into rising energy prices, the SFHA said tenants are experiencing increased financial hardship, and social landlords have seen a growing demand for energy advice and help with fuel costs, even amongst tenants who had not previously required support.
People in social housing are already more likely to live in fuel poverty than those who own their home, largely due to lower incomes. SFHA is calling for improved targeting of financial support, wider energy market reforms, investment in frontline advice services and acceleration of social housing retrofit programmes.
Housing associations have seen an increase in tenants’ levels of anxiety regarding their energy bills. The collapse of energy companies is also causing stress and financial difficulty for tenants. Mechanisms are in place to move customers to a new supplier, if necessary, but there is no guarantee their energy costs will remain the same. Housing associations reported that the transition period involved in changing suppliers is leading to some tenants not being able to keep up with payments and accumulating debt.
Councillor Kenny MacLaren added:
“It is extremely worrying that SFHA members (which are local housing associations across Scotland) are already reporting an increase in fuel debt and energy rationing amongst their tenants. Without urgent action the situation will continue to get worse, with more tenants pushed into fuel poverty.
“The UK Tory Government’s £200 electricity bill discount will, ultimately, do little to support those most at risk of fuel poverty, and the requirement to pay this back could leave many worse off. Energy market reforms are needed to increase fairness for customers, and support for households should relate to their individual financial and household situation.
“It is a disgrace that anyone in an energy rich nation like Scotland should be suffering from fuel poverty and facing problems paying such bills.”