Friday, 14 January 2011

Fuel poverty reaching crisis point

Carolyn Churchill's article in Wednesday's Herald 'More energy bill misery ahead' [12/1/11] sent shivers down my spine and I suspect I wasn't the only one. On reading further my blood began to boil as details of further gas and electricity price rises were forecast.
In November the Scottish Government released figures showing a threefold increase in 'fuel poverty' levels. More than 770,000 households in Scotland are now in this position paying more than 10% of their income on energy bills. Worse still was the enormous rise in those experiencing 'extreme fuel poverty' [spending 20% of household income on keeping warm]. And all this before the bills arrive for the coldest winter in living memory.
In a largely unreported section of the Scottish Government announcement was the revelation that Alex Salmond has abandoned his 2007 manifesto commitment to eradicating fuel poverty in Scotland by 2014.
So with the average combined gas and electricity bill now £1,300 a year and, as Carolyn Churchill's article warns, another rise likely and the situation fast reaching crisis point the population is to be left to the mercy of profiteering power companies.
The human misery behind these figures is appalling. What's the number of cold related deaths going to be this winter? Millions of Scots are now unable to pay these exorbitant gas and electricity bills amid an economic downturn with spiralling prices and tax rises?
In an energy rich country like ours this is nothing short of a national disgrace. It doesn't have to be like this.

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