SOME 57% of people living in one region of Scotland are set to be plunged into fuel poverty as a result of the energy price crisis, a charity has warned.

A new analysis has revealed that as many as 211,000 more Scots households are likely too be living in fuel poverty in the coming months, a 43% rise on 2019 figures.

The study carried out by fuel poverty campaigners Energy Action Scotland shows 57% of people living in the Western Isles will soon be spending more than 10% of their income on energy - after housing costs have been deducted – the official definition of being fuel poor.

A further 11 local authority areas will see more than two in every five homes moving into official fuel poverty.

Energy Action Scotland chief executive, Frazer Scott said: "These price increases will move significant proportions of our communities into official fuel poor status. On average 38% of households across the country will no longer be able to afford to heat their home adequately."

"Although moves by governments in Scotland and Westminster to alleviate these price rises are welcome, they go nowhere near far enough."

Around 1.5m Scots households are to see their energy bills soar by up to £693 a year from April 1 after the regulator Ofgem hiked the price cap by the biggest increase yet.

Energy Action Scotland is urging the UK government to tax the excessive profits being made by oil and gas giants and to cut VAT on energy bills. It says that it should redistribute the VAT windfall already received to help those with the lowest incomes and consider radical reforms to ensure that vulnerable fuel poor households are protected.

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The charity says that the UK Government will tax average dual fuel households an extra £44 through higher VAT receipts "heaping taxes upon those that can least afford to pay them".

Mr Scott added: "We estimated that 100,000 more households would seriously struggle to heat their homes after these price rises, unfortunately it would see this was a vast underestimate of the extent of the problem. We urgently need government action to improve the energy efficiency of homes, particularly targeted at households that suffer the greatest rates of fuel poverty. This would ensure help is being given to those that need it the most."

Households that use a default energy tariff to buy their gas and electricity can expect a sharp increase in their bills from April 1 after the regulator lifted its energy price cap.

The sharp 54% rise, which will impact half the population, is said to be driven by a record rise in global gas prices over the last 6 months, with wholesale prices quadrupling in the last year.

From April 1, the three in four customers on default tariffs paying by direct debit will see an increase of £693 from £1,277 to £1971 while the rest who are on prepayment meters will see a rise of £708 from £1,309 to £2017.

It will affect default tariff customers who haven’t switched to a fixed deal and those who remain with their new supplier after their previous supplier exited the market.

Industry analysts have warned that continued volatility in wholesale energy markets could push average household energy bills even higher - by more than £700 to £2,000 a year from April.

"Continued inaction will cost lives," said Mr Scott. "Over 2000 more people die in winter when cold damp homes reduce health and wellbeing more than they do in summer. According to the World Health Organisation around 1 in 3 of these deaths are directly attributable to living in fuel poverty. These deaths are avoidable but look set to rise as prices rocket."