Buddies are being urged to shout for help if they are worried about a rise in energy bills after a poll showed 70 per cent of Scots have fears about the hike.
Paisley Northwest councillor Kenny MacLaren insists the survey by Advice Direct Scotland (ADS) – which involved just over 1,000 participants – has exposed the severity of the cost-of-living crisis.
Just under two-thirds of Scots said they had already limited their energy usage over the past year so they could afford food and other services.
And of those rationing their heating, almost a third said they often feel cold in their own home.
Don’t miss the latest headlines from around Renfrewshire. Sign up to our newsletters here.
Common concerns expressed in people’s responses included big jumps in direct debit payments and what happens when your supplier goes out of business.
Councillor MacLaren said the level of anxiety is now clear and encouraged people to reach out to ADS for free if they had concerns.
“This stark poll demonstrates the scale of the cost-of-living crisis in Scotland,” he said.
“Thousands of households are already rationing their energy use so they can afford necessities such as food and, as a result, many are cold in their own homes.
“The looming energy price hike is causing considerable anxiety, with 70 per cent of Scots worried about affording their bills.
“Nobody should suffer alone, and anyone concerned about their energy bills should get in touch with ADS for expert, practical advice.”
As well as providing free advice, ADS administers the Scottish Government’s £4million Home Heating Support Fund for those limiting their energy use, which ‘referral partners’ such as housing associations or councils can access on behalf of their clients.
This week finance secretary Kate Forbes announced a £150 energy bill support payment for those in receipt of council tax reduction, irrespective of what band they are in.
Payments will also be given to anyone living in bands A to D.
Age Scotland has welcomed the move but fears many pensioners in need will still fall through the cracks.
Brian Sloan, chief executive, said: “There is no doubt the rising cost of living is going to continue to bite for many more months to come and energy bills will be the greatest contributor to this.
“The announcement from the Scottish Government that people who receive council tax reduction will receive the £150 payment irrespective of which band their home is in is very welcome.
“We asked them to do this on the basis council tax bands are not an accurate metric of a person’s financial situation. And while it may capture many people on the lowest income it will still miss large numbers who are most in need.”
To contact ADS, call 0808 196 8660.
Download the FREE Renfrewshire Live app now for all the latest news, features and sport in your area. Available on both Android and Apple. Download here:smarturl.it/RenfrewLiveSocial