Thousands in Midlothian cannot afford to turn heating on says report

Tuesday May 2nd 2023


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Up to 21,000 adults living in Midlothian cannot afford to turn on the heat in their homes to keep warm or eat a balanced meal, according to a new report.

It is estimated as many as 34,000 people are worried about energy bills and it said in one month alone 8,000 adults went hungry because they did not have enough money to buy food.

The figures, which will be presented to a meeting of Midlothian Council next week, come from an independent study ordered by the local authority’s cost of living task force – set up last summer.

Among its initial findings it estimated that between 17,000 and 21,000 adults cannot afford to turn their heating on to keep their home warm; 21,000 cannot afford to eat balanced meals; 8,000 went hungry due to lack of money in the last month; 8,000 missed a priority payment over the last three months and 16,000 have had their mental health/ health negatively affected.

Between 28,000 to 34,000 adults also admitted to being worried about energy bills.

Midlothian has the highest growing population in Scotland with the 2021 figure of 94,680 adults and children expected to rise to more than 103,000 in the next five years.

The findings of the study are included in a report on the cost of living crisis and cost of a school day to families, which goes before councillors next week.

The report looks for the go ahead to create a cost of a school day policy looking at ways to further support families struggling to cope.

It will also include a school meal debt policy with officials seeking permission to write off £32,000 of unpaid school meal fees in the face of the ongoing cost of living crisis.

The report lists the actions already set up by the cost of living taskforce using £1.36m of Covid recovery funds to support people struggling to cope.

They included establishing a Heat and Eat fund for those unsuccessful in Scottish Welfare Fund applications, warm and well hubs providing warm space, hot drinks and soup and funding Woodburn Pantry and supporting other foodbanks or similar projects.

And it says a report setting out more recommendations, actions and next steps, for dealing with the cost of living crisis facing adults in the county, will be brought back to the taskforce in the next few months.

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