MORE than one in three older households in South Ayrshire are living in fuel poverty, according to newly-published statistics.

Research carried out for older people's charity Age Scotland found that 37 per cent of South Ayrshire respondents aged over 65 in a national survey were affected by fuel poverty.

According to the government's definition, households in fuel poverty are those where more than 10 per cent of the household's net income - or 20 per cent for extreme fuel poverty - is needed to pay for their 'reasonable fuel needs', after housing costs have been deducted.

Market researchers ScotInform surveyed more than 1,100 over 50s from every local authority in Scotland on behalf of Age Concern, in a study funded by the Scottish Government.

The charity’s national housing survey of older people found that for Scotland as a whole, almost four in 10 over-65s - 39 per cent, to be exact - are living in fuel poverty in 2023.

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Despite the number of elderly people living in fuel poverty in South Ayrshire, every one of those surveyed actually believed that their home was currently in a suitable condition.

Adding to this, 37.5 per cent of older households didn’t know or didn’t think their home would be suitable in 10 years.

Household costs, including energy bills, lack of accessibility within the home, distance from friends and family and a decline in health were all given as reasons why older people feel like they might need to move.

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Katherine Crawford, interim chief executive of Age Scotland, said: "While there is plenty of good news to suggest that the majority of those who took part are happy in their homes, it’s alarming to learn that almost half of those who responded are living in fuel poverty – and a further 16 per cent are not sure if they are, but could be close.

“These results lay bare the shocking impact rising energy prices and the cost of living crisis are having on older people. We cannot allow a situation where older people are putting their health at risk by failing to heat their homes adequately."

“The number of older people who told us they believed they did not live in homes that would be suitable for their needs in ten years time is another issue that must be addressed at national and local government level."

Scotland's housing minister, Paul McLennan, said: "I welcome the Age Scotland National Housing Survey.

"The Scottish Government recognises the issues raised and is working to improve them.

"Our priority is to do everything we can to help those worst affected by high energy bills which is why we tripled the Fuel Insecurity Fund from £10 million to £30 million.

“We plan to introduce a new Scottish Accessible Homes Standard and launched a consultation on June 29, which will seek views from stakeholders including older people on how we can future proof new homes by building in accessibility and adaptability from the start.

"This will ensure older people have an increased range of housing options and reduce the need to make costly changes to homes as their needs change.

“We are also taking forward a review of the current housing adaptations system, due to conclude this year.”