ANGUS MACDONALD CALLS ON ENERGY SECTOR AND UK GOVERNMENT TO TAKE ACTION TO TACKLE FUEL POVERTY
Sunday, 27 January 2013 09:57
SIX KEY DEMANDS TO AID SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT ACTION
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has this week said the energy sector and the UK Government must take immediate action to help constituents in Falkirk district facing the hardship of fuel poverty.
Following a fuel poverty debate in Parliament last week the Scottish Government outlined six key demands at a joint fuel poverty summit with the UK Government which took place on January 23rd in Edinburgh, and was attended by all of the big six energy companies, along with Ed Davey, the UK Government's Energy Secretary, Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland, Ofgem and consumer groups like Consumer Focus Scotland.
The Scottish Government’s six demands are:
1. That the UK Government takes immediate action to improve regulation of energy companies, to ensure that consumers are better protected against further price hikes
2. That Ofgem immediately publishes the outcomes of its investigation into wholesale energy price fixing claims, and follows up with required actions as soon as possible
3. That the UK Government ensures the Scottish Government receives robust and relevant information on how its new ECO scheme is being delivered in Scotland
4. That energy companies take immediate action to protect vulnerable households, including rolling out a pilot scheme to help consumers access cheap energy tariffs. The Energy Best Deal Plus pilot scheme was launched in July 2012 and is still to be rolled out across the country
5. That energy companies commit to a minimum level of funding in Scotland to support Scottish Government energy efficiency programmes, including a fair share of Energy Company Obligation targets for Scotland based on the market share
6. That the UK Government ensures that the costs of the ECO initiative are passed onto consumers in a way which best protects the poorest and most vulnerable households.
Speaking in Grangemouth after the Scottish Government set out its demands to the UK Government, Angus MacDonald MSP said::
"In an energy rich country like Scotland it is absolutely scandalous that so many people are being forced to choose between heating and eating.
"In spite of the concerted efforts of the Scottish Government to help households reduce their energy bills through the provision of energy efficiency grants and initiatives, tens of thousands of families were pushed into fuel poverty last year as a direct result of energy company price rises.
"While the Scottish Government is doing everything it can within the devolved powers it has to tackle this problem - including committing a budget of £68 million for fuel poverty and energy efficiency programmes this year alone - key levers remain out with Scotland’s control.
"We need immediate and urgent action from the UK Government, energy companies and Ofgem to help more households across Scotland where fuel bills mean people are struggling to make ends meet.
"That is why the Scottish Government used the energy summit in Edinburgh last week to pinpoint the key demands which will help protect vulnerable people and ensure that Falkirk district’s households are better supported.
"It is my belief that everyone in Falkirk district, and Scotland, should live in a warm and safe home that doesn't cost the earth to heat.
"I would urge anyone who is concerned about their energy bills to contact the Scottish Government’s Home Energy Scotland Hotline, free on 0800 512 012 as soon as possible to find out about the assistance they can get now. The service has advisers on hand to answer questions about heating and insulation, including how people can access free or discounted loft and cavity wall insulation.
“Without full insulation, consumers could be losing over 50% of their home’s heat through the roof and walls yet two out of three Scottish lofts don’t have enough insulation. Loft insulation can save £175 a year and will last forty years so this initiative is an important way of showing how people can save energy and money by making just one phone call. Constituents can also visit http://www.homeenergyscotland.org.uk for more information online.
“In addition to the Scottish Government’s hotline a helpline run by the big six energy companies, The Home Heat Helpline (0800 33 66 99) advises people who may be worried about paying their fuel bills and keeping warm during the winter. It also gives advice to low-income households in urgent need of heating help and advice. It is free to call and is open 9am-6pm Monday to Friday. This Helpline is targeted specifically at vulnerable and low-income customers and works closely with organisations such as Energy Action Scotland and Citizens Advice Scotland.
“If constituents find themselves in need of assistance or advice they should not hesitate to contact these numbers.”