A ‘BLEAK’ report has found one in six Scots are seeking advice for food insecurity.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is warning of a “direct link” between unaffordable energy bills and people not having reliable access to healthy food.

The organisation has branded the Autumn Statement last week as a “missed opportunity” to help people who are bearing the brunt of the cost of living crisis.

The charity’s latest quarterly report – for July, August and September - examined advice patterns across the network of 59 Citizens Advice Bureaus (CABs) and discovered 16% of people who sought food insecurity advice also needed utilities advice.

The report additionally found that the majority of demand for utilities advice was from people from the poorest backgrounds.

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Meanwhile, it was discovered single parent households are twice as likely to seek utilities advice as they are advice generally.

The concerning report has led to calls for the UK Government to deliver more targeted support to households suffering the most during the cost of living crisis.

The SNP’s social justice spokesperson David Linden said the Tories had a chance to help people last week in the Autumn Statement but instead they have abandoned those most in need.

He said: “This latest report paints a bleak picture for thousands of households across Scotland.
“Last week, the UK Government had the opportunity to deliver support to those needing it most and help prevent scenarios like this unfolding.
“Instead, both the Chancellor and Prime Minister abandoned them.
“In contrast, the SNP Scottish Government continue to support households through bold and progressive actions like the Scottish Child Payment and Best Start Grant – not to mention spending a staggering £600 million per year just to mitigate cruel Westminster policies.
“These are just some of the actions we have managed to take, all with one hand tied behind our back and working on a fixed budget.
“With Westminster continuing to make households across Scotland poorer, the need for independence has never been starker.”

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The CAB network also continued to see higher levels of demand for cost of living related advice from single, non-pensioner households, and council-rented tenants - particularly in areas such as crisis support, food insecurity, debt, and utilities.

The charity believes people are increasingly turning to commercial credit for essential spending because they already are behind on their bills.

Last week it was confirmed that the energy price cap would increase by £94 on January 1.

David Hilferty, CAS director of impact, said: “What our latest cost of living analysis shows is the crystal clear link between unaffordable energy bills and food poverty.

“We also see that demand for utilities advice is highest from those from the poorest background, which underlines the need for targeted support for these households.

“The Autumn Statement was a missed opportunity to deliver that additional support, and households already facing real problems will see the price cap for energy bills increase in January as well.

Anyone who is concerned about their energy bills this winter should click here for advice.