Greedy energy companies which forced up bills have plunged almost a million Scottish households into fuel povety this Christmas, Energy Action Scotland warned today.
The charity estimated a staggering 900,000 Scottish households have been forced to hand over more than 10 per cent of their income to Britain's big six energy companies.
That leaves over 200,000 more Scottish households suffering fuel poverty compared with last year.
And a further 7.8 per cent of households are in "extreme fuel poverty" - paying out more than 20 per cent of income on heating and energy - the charity said.
The charity's findings are based on the results of a Scottish government survey of 15,000 households across the country.
Energy Action Scotland director Norman Kerr said: "The fact that more Scottish households are now in fuel poverty is very disappointing but not surprising, as energy prices have gone up and people's budgets generally are under pressure.
"Efforts to make homes energy efficient, so that less energy is needed to heat them, are more vital than ever and will clearly have to be increased."
A political row has broken out over the charity's analysis between the SNP government and opposition parties.
The Scottish government said its investment of £68 million in energy effiency and fuel poverty programmes between 2012-2013 had been undermined by the energy companies' price rises.
Opposition parties said the SNP government should take responsibility.
Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: "With thousands more homes in fuel poverty, the Scottish government must be more ambitious. Wringing hands about Westminster's failure to tackle the big six energy companies isn't good enough."
But public services union GMB senior organiser Jim Moohan called on parties to stop point-scoring and deliver a solution.
"It's a scandalous indictment of the Scottish government, the Westminster government and all political parties, that they can't find a way of sitting round a table and coming to an arrangement with the big six.
"It's a total embarrassment that in the 21st century, in such a rich nation, we can't come to the support of people struggling to keep the lights on and keep themselves warm."
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