THE UK Government has been accused of a “failure of compassion” by failing to include measures in the new energy strategy to help people in fuel poverty.

This month’s energy price rises have seen more than 40% of households in large parts of Scotland move into fuel poverty, according to fuel poverty campaigners Energy Action Scotland (EAS).

Scottish Government figures show that a further 211,000 households are likely to be living in fuel poverty in the coming months, an increase of 43% on 2019.

EAS modelling shows that in the Western Isles, one of the hardest hit areas in the country, 57% of people will soon be spending more than 10% of their income on energy after housing costs have been deducted – the official definition of being fuel poor. A further 11 local authority areas will see more than two in every five homes moving into official fuel poverty.

Yet last week’s much heralded energy strategy contained no measures to help bring people’s bills down now.

“Instead of helping people struggling to stay warm in their homes, the energy strategy is mostly focused on helping businesses in the energy sector,” said Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance. “When so many people are crying out for help, that’s a failure of compassion.”

He said it was “unjust” that in a nation rich in energy and wealth, so many ​people were living in fuel poverty. “Rising energy bills are part of a tidal wave of increased living costs that will pull even more into poverty,” said Kelly.

“But we can solve this. ​As well as doing much more to bolster social security and fix our labour market, we can tax energy companies properly and ensure that their excess profits are diverted into putting money into the pockets of ​people needing help to pay their gas and electricity bills.

“We can invest money in making our existing homes warmer and easier to heat. We can make sure building regulations ensure that new homes are properly insulated so they are fit for families and a low-carbon future.”

The strategy was also criticised by trade unions. Unison national energy officer, Matthew Lay, said: “To call this a strategy is a complete misnomer. It does nothing to ease the pain people are feeling now, nor to bring Britain closer to meeting its net zero targets. It’s a smokescreen covering mistakes of the past that have left us so dangerously reliant on fossil fuels.

“Lack of detail on how any changes will be funded is worryingly familiar. Already-squeezed consumers will likely have to fork out to make up for years of energy mismanagement.

“It’s totally unforgivable to have no plan for insulating Britain’s leaky housing stock, which would cut bills now and ease some of the pain being felt by millions.”

Gary Smith, general secretary of GMB, said the strategy raised “serious” questions about the “worrying” lack of specific commitments on UK jobs. “Lofty promises of tens of thousands of jobs in offshore wind just don’t stack up when the UK continues to award vital new projects to companies based in authoritarian

regimes,” he said. “The UK should be building this energy future, not surrendering it to other nations.”

Energy specialists have also

expressed dismay at the lack of fresh funding to improve energy efficiency of UK housing, which ranks among the worst in Europe.

It was hoped there would be packages to help improve insulation and other energy saving measures, but instead the review focuses on building nuclear power stations, as well as ramping up North Sea drilling and greenlighting more offshore wind.

The Energy Climate and Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said that without help to insulate homes there was little prospect people could afford to keep their homes warm. Sepi Golzari-Munro, ECIU deputy director, said: “With extra UK gas production having no effect on prices, it begs the question whether having gas that households can’t afford to use counts as ‘energy security’ to them.”