Up to three-quarters of elderly people living in rural areas of Scotland are suffering fuel poverty and are “falling through the cracks” in government policy, according to an expert report to be launched tomorrow.
Growing numbers of old people on the islands and in countryside regions are struggling to meet escalating bills for heating their homes. They are much worse off than old people in urban areas, with many having to cut back on food, transport and other essentials if they want to stay warm.
The risks to people’s health can be “catastrophic”, experts warn, leading to thousands of extra deaths every winter. Cold, damp homes can cause hypothermia, and make many illnesses worse, including arthritis, respiratory and circulatory conditions, they say.
A comprehensive new analysis by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) also reveals a myriad of linked problems facing some rural areas. Young people are leaving, transport costs are high and affordable housing can be in short supply.
The report by SRUC shows that nearly 60 per cent of the over-60s in rural areas are in fuel poverty, compared to 45 per cent in urban areas. “Rural households in which the highest income householder is aged 60 plus are more likely than not to be living in fuel poverty,” it concludes.