MORE than one in 10 Scots say their energy bills are “unaffordable”, a major survey has found.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) says its findings, released today, show a “divide in the nation” between those who can manage their bills and those who struggle to pay.

Previous estimates suggest almost 25% of households are in fuel poverty.

The new findings are based on a survey of more than 3500 people and found increasing numbers of Scots are shifting from electricity to cheaper gas for home heating.

Glasgow had the highest proportion of electric heating users, followed by the north-east.

The National:

As many as 12% of people said energy prices are too expensive.

And while almost half of consumers could qualify for extra support with their energy supply through the priority service register, only a quarter of consumers are enrolled in the scheme. In 2017, 21% of people told CAS – which saved clients £1.3 million in power costs last year – they’d switched supplier to cut bills.

READ MORE: Watchdog: Ofgem left Scots paying too much for energy

READ MORE: Scotland's fuel poverty fight continues as numbers struggling rise

In 2019 that figure was 26%, and half of all those who changed providers had turned to a price comparison website.

Just 16% of switchers had joined any of the so-called “big six” energy companies as smaller providers were deemed to offer lower prices.

Dr Jamie Stewart of CAS commented: “This major report gives us a really useful insight into the state of the energy market in Scotland which policymakers in government and industry may wish to consider.

“It’s notable that more than one in 10 consumers feel their bills are unaffordable.

“Our report highlights the key divide in the nation, with some appearing to manage the cost of energy while a significant proportion of society continue to struggle. We strongly believe that more needs to be done to ensure that the essential service of energy is affordable for everyone in Scotland.”

Stewart went on: “The small fall in people using electricity and the increase in gas usage should also be considered carefully by policymakers.

“As mains gas remains the cheapest way to heat homes for most people, policymakers will have to make tough decisions about how we decarbonise household heating and how to support people with the associated costs.”

The release was timed to hit before potential changes to the energy retail market in Scotland, such as the takeover of SSE’s retail business by challenger Ovo Energy.

The Competition and Markets Authority cleared that £500m move in December and the deal makes Ovo the UK’s second largest energy supplier, with 5m customers.