SSE donation of £40,000 to Energy Action Scotland is dismissed as ‘window-dressing’ by Western Isles poverty group

SEN Special Report cover photo Warm Homes and Fuel PovertyA £40,000 donation to the Scottish charity which campaigns to eradicate fuel-poverty by one of Britain’s Big-6 energy companies has been criticised as ‘window dressing’.

Perth-based Scottish & Southern Energy – a FTSE-100 top plc – said the donation to Energy Action Scotland is ‘one of of a series that SSE has given so far this year to prominent charities in order to provide real and meaningful help to its most vulnerable customers.”

But Angus McCormack, Chairman of the Western Isles Poverty Action Group, commented: “SSE is to give £40,000 to ‘support Energy Action Scotland to raise awareness of the help on offer to those struggling to pay their energy bills.’ That will be £40,000 out of a profit for the year of £1.5 billion.

“Like all of SSE’s support for schemes of this nature, it is nothing more than window dressing.

“In the Highlands and Islands where the harsh weather, low incomes and hard to insulate houses mean that fuel poverty is endemic (71% of the households in the Outer Hebrides are in fuel poverty) – so throwing £40,000 at the problem is close to insulting.”

“SSE must act to eliminate the 2p surcharge they currently levy on their loyal consumers in the Highlands and Islands. Only radical action will alleviate fuel poverty. SSE should not delude themselves into believing that throwing paltry sums of money at worthy schemes addresses the problem.”

Donations to charities are tax deductible under UK company law.

A spokesman for SSE said: ‘The charity will publicise the help available from a range of trusted organisations, and produce materials to support frontline workers in housing, health, social care, welfare, benefits and energy efficiency, so that they can inform and help vulnerable individuals before they reach crisis point.’

So acute is the problem of fuel poverty in the Western Isles, that The Energy Advisory Service (TEAS) is holding a special action conference in Stornoway on 24 March 2015 – as featured in the Special Report –Warm Homes & Fuel Poverty’ – by Scottish Energy News (see image, above, and link – below- to full report) **

SSE is sending to two senior managers as observers to this conference. Conference speakers include:

  • Councillor Angus Campbell, Leader, Western Isles Council / CNES
  • Norman Kerr, Energy Action Scotland
  • Greg McCracken, Age Scotland
  • Professors Sir John Hills and Anne Power, London School of Economics. **

Fuel Poverty – Ways Forward: Energy Advisory Service conference 24 March: Booking now:

Fuel poverty affects too many people in Scotland and the UK. In this special report by Scottish Energy News in collaboration with the The Energy Advisory Service  (TEAS) we look at what UK energy companies – large and small – can do to help. And we preview the ‘Fuel Poverty – Ways Forward’ Conference being held by The Energy Advisory Service in Stornoway on 24 March 2015. The Western Isles have the highest levels of fuel poverty anywhere in the UK. The country’s leading experts are speaking at the ‘Fuel Poverty – Ways Forward’ Conference. Keep up with the latest issues and emerging solutions in this 8-page Special Report Warm Homes & Fuel Poverty – click below to download your copy and to access the ‘Fuel Poverty – Ways Forward’ conference programme and booking form.
For more information, and to book your place – on the Fuel Poverty – Ways Forward conference in Stornoway 24 March 2015, 01851 704300

Western Isles TIG energy advisory service logo

Brian Whitington, Energy Officer at The Energy Advisory Services (TEAS) in the Western Isles, commented: “The Western Isles has the highest levels of fuel poverty anywhere in the UK.

“This alarming fact has been identified through findings of a survey which went to the 12,000 homes across Eilean Siar. Nearly 3,000 households completed the survey, which is statistically high as response levels.

“So we know what the problem is, where it is and in terms of the 71% who completed the survey who the actual people are.”

Meanwhile, Western Isles Council/ comhairle is setting up a community owned Energy Supply Company for the Outer Hebrides with the aim of reducing energy costs for island consumers – as reported previously by Scottish Energy News. (see also:

Norman Kerr, Director of Energy Action Scotland,  said: “Rural premiums on energy bills are undoubtedly a burden on those living in rural areas.

“However, there appears to be a fundamental misunderstanding that companies like SSE choose to add a premium to the bills of customers in the north of Scotland when in fact it is part of a distribution price control mechanism that applies to any supplier to that part of the country.

“Energy Action Scotland believes that the system should be reviewed and this needs to be done by the UK Parliament.

“The recent donation of £40,000 to Energy Action Scotland from SSE was as a result of a fine imposed on SSE by the regulator Ofgem and does not displace wider and on-going moves to reduce the energy bills of consumers.”



Pixie Energy

Pixie logo Pixie Energy is an incubator and a facilitator of strategic research and project work, focusing on energy regulation, policy and markets at the local and national level. Find out more about Pixie Energy here.

Local Energy Matters: Scotland

Local Energy Matters: Scotland is a free-to-download brochure with a focus on energy tariffs in the two Scottish electricity distribution regions, as well news on local energy and low-carbon schemes.

Previous editions can be download here.

Scottish energy market overview

You can read an overview of the Scottish energy market here.

Scottish Government energy feed