SCOTTISH ministers have written to the UK Government calling for urgent action to help reduce energy bills, warning households are already struggling with the pressures on finances.

Energy Secretary Michael Matheson and Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison have written a joint letter to UK Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng calling for four-nation discussions ahead of an expected increase in the energy price cap in April.

The letter says this could mean an average annual cost of £2000 for the summer 2022 period, which is likely to push more people into fuel poverty – including those “not traditionally thought to be at risk.”

The ministers have called for the UK Government to act with a reduction in VAT and targeted support for those on low incomes, saying the Scottish Government is already taking a number of measures to reduce the burden on consumers, but most powers around energy markets are reserved.

“The UK Government must urgently take further tangible actions in addition to what suppliers [have] already been asked to do to support those in need,” the letter states.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we have been pressing the UK Government to provide more help to vulnerable households through the Warm Home Discount scheme.

“We have set out how this could be delivered by the Scottish Government as part of a single, more flexible fuel poverty scheme in Scotland.

“However time is running out for a replacement scheme of any kind to be put in place for next winter, how these levy-funded schemes will operate from April remains in your hands and a clear, prompt decision is now needed.”

The letter adds: “We believe you should urgently consider a reduction to VAT as one of the most simple means of mitigating the impact on consumers in the short term.

“We would also urge you to make additional payments for those eligible for Cold Weather Payments as a means of targeting support for those on the lowest incomes including older people on pension credit.”

A UK Government spokesman said domestic fuel bills were already subject to the reduced rate of 5% VAT, while the Warm Home Discount provided a £140 rebate to more than two million low-income households.

The spokesman added it recognised the pressure on families and was taking £4.2bn of “decisive action” to help households across the UK.