Edinburgh council elections 2022: Survey shows fuel poverty 'top concern' for voters

The rising cost of living is the top issue for voters in the council elections, with seven out of ten people in some parts of Edinburgh now in fuel poverty, former MSP Colin Fox has claimed.

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Standing as Scottish Socialist Party candidate in Lberton/Gilmerton, Mr Fox said: “As part of our campaign we have carried out extensive door-to-door canvassing in South Edinburgh over the past four weeks on the issue of fuel poverty. We have conducted hundreds of face-to-face interviews with people and noted their anxieties about the cost of gas and electricity. The cost-of-living crisis is uppermost in people's minds and energy prices in particular are nearest to the top.”

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Energy bills went up by an average of £700 in April and are forecast to rise further in October.

Mr Fox said: “This week Keith Anderson, the boss of Scottish Power, warned the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee that 18 million UK customers face a ‘horrific’ rise in gas and electricity bills in October if the energy regulator Ofgem, as anticipated, announces a further £900 increase in charges.

“And Dr Matthew Hannon from Strathclyde University’s Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship warned the Holyrood Net-zero, Energy and Transport Committee that average bills could rise to £2,600 this time next year. They were £800 in 2018.”

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The survey found 71 per cent of respondents were paying more than 10 per cent of their income on energy – the official definition of fuel poverty – and 33 per cent were in “extreme fuel poverty”, with 20 per cent of their money going on gas and electricity bills.

Mr Fox said the figures offered a stark warning to political leaders. “These results from our conversations in Burdiehouse, Moredun, Craigour, Gilmerton, Gracemount, Fernieside and The Inch over the past month show the cost of living crisis is the number one issue in this election with gas and electricity bills at its epicentre. People are extremely concerned at the situation.

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Colin Fox says the survey's findings are a stark warning to Scotland's political leaders.

"One young woman I met last Friday in Morden spoke for many when she told me ‘I don’t know how I am going to pay [for gas and electricity] if these bills go up another £900 in October. My wages have not gone up for three years. It’s already a choice for us between eating and heating.’"

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