Commenting on the Chancellor’s autumn statement, Norman Kerr, Director of fuel poverty charity Energy Action Scotland said:
“The £50 cut on average from energy bills confirmed by the Chancellor will provide a small respite for people worried about making ends meet. However, it is not enough to cancel out the energy price increases already made this winter.
“It is essential that the Government now boosts its support for and public awareness of energy efficiency programmes which can help to cut the amount of energy needed by households year on year.
“Having addressed some aspects of how support programmes are paid for by reducing blanket levies on all energy bills, the UK Government must now focus on the main element of energy bills and that lies in the wholesale energy market and how it operates.”
Fuel poverty is the inability to afford adequate warmth in the home, usually defined as having to pay more than 10% of income on energy costs. The main causes are poor energy efficiency of the home, high domestic fuel prices and low household income.
Energy Action Scotland estimates there are currently around 900,000 households in Scotland in or at risk of fuel poverty.
Elizabeth Gore, Deputy Director, Energy Action Scotland said: “Just after learning from the Government that they would get a £50 cut in their energy bills, households are given the news that yet another energy company is increasing its prices. Customers are no doubt thinking that it is a case of ‘giving with the right and taking with the left’.
“There needs now to be serious and on-going discussions about how to bring energy bills to a more reasonable level. Those discussions must include how the wholesale market operates and how to reduce energy demand significantly through better energy efficiency.”
Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister, said that the changes to the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) will significantly reduce expenditure in Scotland for energy efficiency and fuel poverty measures.
She said: In Scotland’s Future we made our position clear about how ECO and the Warm Homes Discount would be funded in an independent Scotland. These costs would be met by central resources.
“By passing on these cost reductions to their consumers, energy companies will be able to reduce their bills by around 5% – approximately £70 every year. We are also committed to continue in an independent Scotland the overall levels of funding available to tackle fuel poverty – currently at least £200 million a year.
“This is a fairer way of paying for energy efficiency measures than through people’s energy bills and would enable us to design a new means of funding, delivering energy efficiency improvements to Scottish homes that is fairer and better suited to our needs.”