Campaigners have called for more support for the parts of Scotland hardest hit by fuel poverty after figures revealed a shocking disparity between council areas.
The Scottish average is 24 per cent.
Fuel poverty is defined by the Scottish Government as any household spending more than 10 per cent of their income on energy – after housing costs have been deducted.
Energy Action Scotland, a national charity which compiled the figures, said the extent of the problem was “alarming”.
Frazer Scott, the group’s chief executive, said: “It is maybe not surprising to most people that the Western Isles is the most fuel poor part of the country given the inclement weather conditions, dependence on electric heating and low levels of energy efficiency – but the extent of the problem is alarming.
“Two in every five households cannot afford to heat their home is something that needs to be addressed urgently.”
The charity is calling for a VAT cut on energy bills to help tackle the problem.
Scott added: “We estimate that as prices rocket over 100,000 more households will seriously struggle to heat their homes.
“We urgently need more government action to improve the energy efficiency of homes across the country but particularly targeted at households that suffer the greatest rates of fuel poverty.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said ministers are “committed” to ending fuel poverty.
They added: “We have allocated over £1 billion since 2009 to tackling fuel poverty and improving the energy efficiency of people’s homes to make them warmer and cheaper to heat.
“Ground-breaking investment of at least £1.8 billion over the next five years is also underway to help transform the heating and energy efficiency performance of Scotland’s buildings still further.
“We recognise people will be concerned about rising energy bills this year – particularly as the colder weather approaches – and we are making £10 million of funding available through our Fuel Insecurity Fund to help people struggling with their heating costs this winter.
“We have also increased funding this year for our Warmer Homes Scotland scheme, which can help households in fuel poverty make their homes warmer and more affordable to heat.
“Over the coming years, our transition to using renewable heating sources presents a huge opportunity to make our energy supply not just greener, but also cheaper and more secure.
“We know that there are some unique challenges to establishing zero and low carbon electricity networks in off-grid locations – particularly on our islands and in rural areas.
“That is why we are committed to delivering tangible support, through initiatives such as the CARES programme, to ensure we meet our climate obligations while at the same time seizing the opportunities this presents to ensure a greener, fairer future for everyone.”
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