THE Scottish Greens warn “people will die” if action is not taken as a study reveals 72% of Scottish households will be in fuel poverty in January.

A study by the University of York estimates that two-thirds of UK households will be in fuel poverty by the start of 2023, with Scotland being the second worst affected nation in the UK.

The study was published ahead of October’s energy price cap rise, with annual bills estimated to skyrocket to £3500.

The study estimated that 18 million UK families, or 45m individuals, will struggle to pay their bills amid the crisis.

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Commenting on the study, Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell said that it was time for “Downing Street to finally show some leadership" and recognise the "scale of the crisis”.

He added: “This is an emergency, and people will die unless action is taken. Behind every one of these numbers are households and families who are struggling. Millions of people are terrified about what is to come and how they will pay for it.

“Every time they open a newspaper or turn on the news there are reports of costs getting even higher. Without major and immediate change it will be an even harder winter."

"It’s time for Downing Street to finally show some leadership and recognise the scale of the crisis. That means finally setting out a meaningful support package that will keep bills down and save lives.”

Of all the UK nations, the research found that Northern Ireland would be the worst affected, with 76.3% of households being in fuel poverty in January.

The third worst affected area is estimated to be the West Midlands (70.9%) and the fourth is Yorkshire and the Humber at 70.6%.

The area estimated to have the fewest number of households in fuel poverty is London, with 56.4% of households by the start of next year.

Boris Johnson met with representatives of the energy sector last week to discuss the crisis but has so far refused to take any further measures to help households before a new Tory leader is chosen.

Meanwhile, the SNP has demanded that the UK Government “come out of hiding” and take direct action.

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The SNP’s shadow chancellor, Alison Thewliss MP, said: “This truly horrifying study must finally alert the UK government to come out of hiding and address the Tory-made cost of living crisis.

“So far, the Prime Minister and Chancellor have done nothing to help ease the squeeze for households, with rising bills and soaring inflation reaching levels not seen since Margaret Thatcher.

“There can be no more delays. The Prime Minister and Chancellor must finally recall parliament and deliver an emergency budget which will freeze the energy price cap rise, scrap VAT on fuel and deliver meaningful and long-lasting financial support to households.

“Failure to do so could have devastating consequences for millions of families across these islands.”

Tory leadership hopefuls Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have both ruled out freezing energy prices before the October price cap rise.

The UK Treasury has been contacted for comment.