Cost of living crisis: Six out of ten people in Edinburgh fear being unable to pay their energy bills

Poll reveals what people are most worried about

The impact of the cost of living crisis on families and individuals in Edinburgh and the Lothians is revealed in a poll which asked people about the outlook for the next 12 months.

Around six in ten say they fear they will not be able to pay their energy bills, four out of ten are worried they won’t be able to afford their rent or mortgage, up to a quarter fear they could be made homeless and up to 30 per cent say they might have to resort to food banks.

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The poll, commissioned by 38 Degrees and conducted by Survation, asked people across the UK a series of questions about how the cost of living crisis might affect them over the next year. The results were broken down by parliamentary constituencies.

38 Degrees said: “We wanted to understand the reality Britain faces right now, the fears people have as a result of this government’s decisions and what should happen next. The results stopped all of us in our tracks.”

A huge sample size means the poll gives an accurate picture not only nationally, but in every constituency across the county. “And the impact is especially crippling in some of our country’s hardest hit areas.”

In Edinburgh North & Leith, 62 per cent said they feared they would not be able to pay their energy bills, 63 per cent said they would have to cut back on essentials, 46 per cent were worried about affording their rent or mortgage, 26 per cent feared they could be made homeless and 24 per cent thought they might have to use foodbanks.

The figures were similar in Edinburgh East – 62 per cent thought they might not be able to afford their energy bills, 66 per cent said they would have to cut back on essentials, 46 per cent were worried about rent or mortgage payments, 25 per cent feared homelessness and 22 per cent could foresee having to use foodbanks.

People are worried about not being able to pay their bills, ending up homeless and having to use foodbanks.

In Edinburgh West, 57 per cent feared not being able to afford energy bills, 39 per cent said the same about their rent of mortgage, 58 per cent said they would have to cut back on essentials, 18 per cent were worried they could be made homeless and 20 per cent feared they might have to use foodbanks.

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The poll found 56 per cent of people in Edinburgh South worried about paying their energy bills, 38 per cent worried about their rent or mortgage, 61 per cent expecting to cut back on essentials, 22 per cent concerned they could become homeless and 23 per cent thinking they might have to turn to foodbanks.

In Edinburgh South West, energy bills were a worry for 58 per cent and rent and mortgage for 46 per cent; 58 per cent said they would have to cut back on essentials; and the prospect of homelessness or using foodbanks loomed large for 25 per cent.

Midlothian had the highest figure in the area for fears over paying energy bills – 64 per cent – and the highest proportion of people expecting to cut back on essentials – 66 per cent. There were also 42 per cent worried and rent or mortgage payments; 21 per cent fearing they could be made homeless and 25 per cent worried they might have to resort to foodbanks.

In East Lothian, 62 per cent feared not being able to pay energy bills, 43 per cent felt the same about rent or mortgage, 64 per cent envisaged cutting back on essentials, 25 per cent worried about homelessness and 27 per cent about foodbanks.

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Livingston had 59 per cent worried about energy costs, 40 per cent about rent or mortgage, 64 per cent expecting to cut back on essentials, 20 per cent fearing homelessness and 28 per cent foodbanks.

And in Linlithgow, 60 per cent feared they might not be able to pay energy bills, 45 per cent saying the same about rent or mortgage, 63 per cent expecting to cut back on essentials, 24 per cent worried about being made homeless and 30 per cent – the highest figure in the area – fearing they would have to resort to foodbanks

Edinburgh East SNP MP Tommy Sheppard: “It’s just horrendous out there.” He said he had organised an advice session on the cost of living in Craigmillar, with representatives from Citizens Advice, Scottish Gas and others. “There were 78 people who turned up on a wet Tuesday afternoon. That’s an unprecedented response to that sort of thing and I fear it’s the tip of the iceberg.

"Some people are really under the cosh right now, but even if they aren’t there’s a fear which I think is now affecting people’s mental and physical health. It’s just a dread hanging over people that they might not be able to make it through the winter. It’s horrible.”

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He said the UK Government appeared “tin-eared” and was actively making the situation worse. “The energy support is support is now only for six months, so what happens after that? The challenge for me and my party is to explain people that it doesn’t have to be like this. Independence is about having the political power to take action on this, it’s not some dry constitutional argument that’s got nothing to do with these bread and butter problems. It’s directly related to them.”

Edinburgh South Labour MP Ian Murray said the poll findings showed the real pressure people were under. He said: “This is real, it’s affecting pretty much everyone and it’s only going to get worse. And we’ve now got a Tory premium of mortgages, borrowing and inflation because of what they have done to the economy, so that makes it all even worse.

“There doesn’t seem to be much light at the end of the tunnel and that’s what government intervention needs to be faster, firmer and deeper. Even the price guarantee that’s in place for six months isn’t enough because £2,500 on the average bill is still outwith the realms of affordability for most. Having to find that kind of money when people were struggling already is just going to break everyone.”

He said there were figures showing 71 per cent of people were cutting back in heating this winter. And he warned mortgage increases could hit people even harder than energy costs. “If you’ve got an average mortgage in Edinburgh, which I think in about £160,000, and it’s a fixed-rate mortgage that’s just about to be renewed you’re going to be £680 a month worse off.”