Scotland has twice as many households in fuel poverty as London despite its population being around two-thirds that of the UK capital, newly released Government figures show.

Campaigners have called for urgent action to help hard-pressed consumers, who are bracing themselves for price rises, after the data showed the country tops the UK table for the number of homes where people struggle to keep warm.

Households are judged to be in fuel poverty if they have to spend more than 10% of their income to pay their energy bills.

Recently it was revealed Scotland had the second-highest percentage of homes suffering fuel poverty in the UK, 28%, behind only Northern Ireland with 44%.

However, new statistics, obtained by Tom Greatrex, the Labour MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, show that it has the highest number of households affected, even compared to places with much larger populations.

The figures show Scotland has 658,000 households in fuel poverty compared to the 331,000 in London. The city has 7.5 mil-lion people while Scotland has 5.25 million.

The second-highest number of people in fuel poverty was the north-west of England with 601,000 in a region which has just under seven million people.

Although Northern Ireland has the highest percentage of people living in fuel poverty, its smaller population of fewer than two million meant it had only 297,000 homes meeting the criteria in 2010, the latest year for which figures are available.

New figures released at the weekend also suggested that families have given up switching energy providers, despite exhortations from the Tory-LibDem Coalition suggesting moving to new suppliers could help cut their bills.

Half as many people tried to switch last year as in 2008, in part, experts believe, because of a feeling that all energy firms charge similar prices.

Campaigners believe there are a number of complex reasons why so many Scots suffer from fuel poverty.

These include poor housing in some areas, where problems with wall cavities can make it much harder to heat a home.

Access to gas in parts of Scotland, especially in rural areas, is also a difficulty, leaving households with little choice over their energy provider.

The figures comparing all the regions of the UK by household numbers were released in a parliamentary answer to Mr Greatrex.

He called on the Scottish Government to do more for consumers.

Mr Greatrex added : "With the threat of more price increases from Scottish Gas and other energy firms, there is more pain on the way for already hard-pressed families across Scotland."

Last month Scottish ministers announced plans for a £2 billion 10-year programme to transform ageing houses and reduce energy bills.

According to official figures more than 500,000 homes across Scotland still require cavity wall insulation.

The SNP Government has pledged to eradicate the problem by 2016, but ministers have admitted that such an ambitious insulation target could be difficult to meet.

Fuel poverty in Scotland fell from the mid-90s to the middle of the last decade.

But it rose sharply again in part because of increased energy prices.

The problem has been linked to almost 4000 deaths a year across the UK.

Campaign groups have warned that the elderly especially can suffer and have warned that many face the choice between "eating and heating".