A new report by Consumer Scotland has found 43% of consumers cannot heat their homes to a comfortable level because of financial concerns.
The Consumer Spotlight: Energy Affordability Tracker shows 69% of people in Scotland are finding it more difficult than last year to keep up with their energy bills.
Consumers are rationing their energy use, with nearly seven in ten (68%) reducing their heating or avoiding the use of electrical appliances.
People are also cutting back on spending in other areas including food shopping (37%), clothes shopping (46%), and entertainment and holidays (54%).
More broadly, the survey found that more than one-third of people in Scotland (36% ) do not feel they are managing well financially.
Consumer Scotland, the statutory and independent body for consumers, commissioned YouGov to undertake the research to provide greater insight into the experience of consumers in Scotland during the energy crisis. Updated statistics will be reported regularly over the next six months.
A range of financial support measures for consumers have been announced by the UK and Scottish governments to help consumers deal with rising energy prices.
However, the Consumer Scotland autumn tracker found just over a quarter (28%) of consumers were unaware of any of the financial support on offer.
And over a quarter of consumers are finding it hard to contact their energy supplier with 27% disagreeing with the statement “the supplier makes it easy for me to contact them if I need to”.
Figures from the Consumer Scotland analysis shows the energy crisis is having a disproportionate impact on particular consumers including young people, women, those who use electricity to heat their homes and people paying for their energy using prepayment meters.
Chief Executive of Consumer Scotland Sam Ghibaldan said:
“Our analysis shows people’s financial situation in Scotland was already tough and is getting worse. Some groups in Scotland are finding it particularly difficult to afford their energy bills.
“The proportion of people who do not think they will be able to afford to heat their home to a comfortable level during the current crisis is concerning given this research was undertaken before the start of the winter.
“The findings show a majority of consumers are taking action such as rationing energy use and cutting back on other areas of essential expenditure.
“At the same time, there are low levels of awareness of financial support available and increasing numbers of consumers are finding it difficult to contact their energy supplier.
“Support for prepayment meter customers should be reviewed by the UK Government, Ofgem and the industry in light of the significant affordability challenges for these consumers.
“Overall, our surveys will help improve understanding of how the wider cost of living crisis is impacting energy consumers and will help provide the evidence required to ensure financial support is directed to those most in need and energy markets are fair to all consumers in future.”
Consumer Scotland is the statutory body for consumers in Scotland. Established on 1 April 2022 under the Consumer Scotland Act 2020, we are independent of government and accountable to the Scottish Parliament.
As the statutory body for consumers we work with business, the public sector and consumer organisations to put consumer rights, needs and interests at the heart of markets, services and policy. Consumer Scotland uses data, research and analysis to inform our work on the key issues facing consumers in Scotland. Under the Act, Consumer Scotland does not have a role in providing advice direct to individual consumers.
In 2022-23 Consumer Scotland committed to commissioning research that would monitor over time the impact of the cost of living crisis on energy consumers in Scotland using an online tracker survey.
YouGov Plc were commissioned to conduct an online quantitative survey on behalf of Consumer Scotland to an existing panel of members resident in Scotland. The total sample size in the autumn 2022 wave was 1,586 adults (aged 16+).
Fieldwork was undertaken 27th September - 10th October 2022. The fieldwork therefore straddled the period covering the end of the last Energy Price Cap and the introduction of the Energy Price Guarantee on 1st October 2022.