SNP MSP calls on Big Six energy to combat fuel poverty with £50 food bank credit vouchers

An SNP MSP is today calling on Britain Big Six energy providers to work with foodbanks to extend a Quick Credit Voucher scheme to tackle fuel poverty. 

Christina McKelvie  has secured the support of Scottish Power to pilot the project at foodbanks in her Hamilton constituency.

The voucher scheme offers a one off £49 credit voucher for to help people heat their homes, and cook meals — with many of those reliant on foodbanks also at risk of fuel poverty. 

McKelvie has now written to the chief executives of E.ON, Scottish-British Gas, EDF, SSE and Npower, asking for them to meet with her to discuss how the pilot scheme is already working in practice and whether they might add their support to extending availability across all energy providers. 

She said: “In an ideal world we wouldn’t need such measures at all. In an energy-rich nation like Scotland we should all be able to heat our homes and cook for our families at fair and competitive rates and everyone should have the means to do that. 

“But the reality is that more and more people across Scotland are being driven into fuel poverty by relentless austerity of the Tory government at Westminster. 

“Nobody should be freezing in the dark at this time of year, and I’m extremely hopeful that the rest of the Big Six recognise the benefits of backing Quick Credit Vouchers in conjunction with local foodbanks. 

“I look forward to further discussions with the energy sector about how they can play a responsible and supportive role in helping hard pressed families to heat their homes across Scotland this winter and in the future.” 

And with Scotland currently experiencing one of the coldest winters for nearly a decade, SNP MSP Kate Forbes also called on the UK government to end the ‘Highland’ energy rip-off ‘ where with customers in the energy-rich region pay higher fuel bills. 

Highland customers face a 2p electricity surcharge which leaves them with higher bills – despite the region having some of the highest rates of fuel poverty in Britain. 

Over half of all rural and remote households live in fuel poverty, with fuel poverty levels significantly higher in rural Scotland. 

Forbes said: “The SNP’s commitment to establishing a publicly-owned, not-for-profit energy company will ensure that the public greater choice and the option of a supplier whose only job is to secure the lowest price for consumers.”

Meanwhile, MPs on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee in the Westminster parliament are this week set to question the Consumer Minister, Margot James MP, on the Government’s proposed energy price cap.

The Committee has previously heard from energy companies on the likely impacts of capping prices and will now be asking the Minister about the provisions of the Bill and how it aims to protect vulnerable users. 

MPs will also be questioning Dermot Nolan, chief executive of energy regulator Ofgem, which has responsibility for setting the price cap. 

8 Jan 2018

 

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