Energy costs average £106 a month

Herald Series: The average energy bill is 106 pounds a month, figures show The average energy bill is 106 pounds a month, figures show

Scottish households have the highest energy costs in Britain, according to official figures.

The average spend in Scottish homes is £112 a month, compared with £105 in Wales and £103 in England, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

But all three nations are substantially lower than Northern Ireland, where the average household spend is £154 a month.

The average UK household spend on energy rose by more than half in a decade from £69 a month in 2002 to £106 in 2012 despite a 17% drop in energy usage, the ONS said.

An ONS report on Household Energy Spending in the UK 2002-2012 states: "Considering the average household energy spend across the countries of the UK from 2010 to 2012, households in Northern Ireland were spending £154 a month on energy (in 2012 prices).

"This was £42 higher than in Scotland, £49 higher than in Wales and £51 higher than in England."

It added: "UK households spent an average of £106 a month on household energy in 2012. This was a 55% rise on the 2002 monthly spend, after accounting for inflation. This is despite a decline in average energy usage.

"Over this same time period, household energy use has fallen. The average amount of energy used per household was 17% lower in 2012 than in 2002. This means the increase in the average amount households are spending is explained solely by rises in energy prices."

Scotland's high energy costs are consistent with Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) figures on energy consumption, the ONS said.

Scotland has the second highest energy consumption per thousand of population of any British region or nation, 18% higher than the British average, according to the DECC.

Wales has the highest household energy consumption at 30% higher than average.

ONS said: "The higher average spend in Northern Ireland may be partly explained by the different nature and size of the energy market there.

"Across the rest of the UK, any differences in the average energy spend are very small. The average monthly spend in Scotland is slightly higher than in England and Wales, consistent with DECC figures on energy consumption per household."

The ONS figures come on the day Scottish Housing Minister Margaret Burgess announced a £60 million fund to cut fuel poverty.

Councils will each get a share of £42 million from the fund for this work, with the remaining £18 million made available to local authorities to develop large-scale schemes.

Ms Burgess said: "Rising energy bills remain a huge concern for this Government. Today's funding will see thousands of homes across Scotland receive new measures like solid wall insulation and help to drive down the number of people living in fuel poverty.

"This funding will be distributed across all of Scotland's local authorities, including our rural and island areas and will include specific provision for households in rural areas currently finding it difficult to access the measures.

"The investment will also support and sustain the insulation industry in Scotland, generating work and supporting jobs.

"We are doing everything we can within our limited powers to provide a wide range of energy efficiency measures to individual households and to local authorities.

"We are actively working with councils and energy companies to ensure that Scotland continues to get its fair share of funding for efficiency programmes like these.

"Only with the full powers of independence can we fully tackle all the causes of fuel poverty. We made our position clear about how ECO (Energy Company Obligation) and Warm Homes Discount would be funded in an independent Scotland. These costs would be met by central resources. Based on current arrangements this would reduce energy bills by around 5% - or around £70 per year."

A DECC spokesman said: "The Government is doing everything within its power to help hard-pressed families keep their energy bills down.

"We've already announced plans that will save customers around £50 on their energy bills. This year 230,000 low income and vulnerable households are estimated to receive long term assistance with their energy bills through the Energy Company Obligation scheme.

"There is also direct help for people with their bills this winter through the Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments."

Labour shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex, a Scottish MP, said: " These new figures from the ONS yet again make clear that households and businesses in Scotland simply cannot afford the costly increase in energy bills that would be likely to follow Scotland leaving the UK.

"At present, Scotland benefits from its role in the shared UK market. Breaking up that market by fragmenting the UK would place a number of new costs on Scottish consumers which have the potential to raise bills by £100 or more.

"In Scotland we receive around a third of all of the renewables subsidies in the UK, despite representing less than 10% of consumers. The costs are shared by all UK consumers, so in the event of separation, the costs of supporting our renewable potential would fall to Scottish consumers, putting pressure on our bills up.

"In the face of rising bills, Alex Salmond has joined his natural ally David Cameron in defending the profits of the Big Six against the interests of the consumer. Labour are the only party with a plan to reset this failing market and introduce a price freeze that would save households and businesses in Scotland £500m."

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