ROCKETING energy prices will risk more Scots turning to food banks, a leading charity has warned.

More and more people in Scotland are turning to Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) for information on paying their energy bills because they are facing a “nightmare scenario” as the cost of living crisis bites.

The energy price cap will rise in April and it is expected households will see a 50% increase in the cost of their utilities, leaving people “hanging on by their fingertips”, CAS warned.

CAS said 30% of its clients getting advice on accessing foodbanks also needed advice about managing their energy bills.

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Previous analysis by the charity revealed half a million people in Scotland were cutting back on food shopping to afford the cost of heating.

The number of people approaching the charity for energy debt advice has risen by 53% since February 2020.

CAS chief executive Derek Mitchell said: “We are facing a nightmare scenario in the spring as the rising cost of living and increases in energy bills collide with flat or falling incomes.

“Around half a million people are already cutting back on food shopping to deal with unaffordable bills, and looking at the demand for advice the Citizens Advice network saw during the pandemic, we see a link between the need to use a food bank and the need for advice around utilities.

“People are holding on by their fingertips, they can’t afford a big rise in bills with no support, some sort of emergency action from the government is essential.

“While we are seeing an unprecedented crisis in the energy market driving these increases, the need for food banks predates this and is simply unacceptable. No one should have to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families.

“People who are struggling should know that we are here for them. The Citizens Advice network helped over 171,000 people during the pandemic, unlocking around £147 million in the process. For energy advice alone people who saw a gain were around £272 better off.

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“Our advice is free, confidential and impartial, and you can get help from a local CAB or check our advice online. I’d encourage anyone to check our advice, you never know what money you are potentially missing out on or where you could be paying less.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: ““We understand the pressures people are facing with the cost of living and are providing support worth around £12 billion over two years to help families.

“Support is being targeted towards the lowest paid, and we are specifically helping households with their energy bills.

“In addition, the energy price cap is currently insulating millions of consumers from high global gas prices and we’ll continue to listen to consumers and businesses on how to manage the costs of energy.”