Fuel poverty: Fears more homes in southern Scotland will struggle to pay their bills

Figures show Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders have some of the worst fuel poverty in Scotland, with 29% of families in both districts struggling with energy bills.

This investigation by charity Energy Action Scotland shows that the average across Scotland is 24% of people have to spend more than 10% of their income to pay fuel bills.

With the energy price cap due to be lifted in April, there are fears more people will have trouble paying their bills.

In Dumfries and Galloway, retired community worker Chick McKenna lives most of his life in - and only heats - one room of his flat.

His landlord has insulated it well, which has kept his electricity bill manageable. With his fixed tariff about to end though, he has been shocked to hear of the effect on his power bill.

He said: "I nearly dropped the phone and said 'are you having a laugh"'. I am paying £48 a month and it [direct debit] is going up to £110 a month. I did a quick calculation and said 'that is a 120% increase'.

"She said 'I am sorry but that is the way it is'."

After shopping around, he was still unable to find a suppler which could provide power at an affordable cost.

"I always thought having a warm home would be a basic human right. Apparently it is not."

He has had to give up his golf hobby as a result of the price rise. "Heat comes first," he said.

Energy Action Scotland is calling on the UK Government to cut VAT on household energy. With ministers meeting the industry in recent days, Chick has said action now could save lives this winter: "It is high time that government at all levels are impacting on people."

He added: "It is not going to be a case of heating or eating for me, it is going to be a case of living or dying."