Scottish Power's 19% hike in gas and electricity charges last month has now been followed by British Gas's 18% increase this month. The other four energy companies - EDF, Eon, Scottish and Southern and NPower - are widely expected to announce similar increases soon.
Perhaps the energy companies or the Government can explain how people are supposed to pay these exorbitant bills when wages have not gone up, benefits have not gone up and pensions have not gone up?
According to Edinburgh Council figures, half the pensioners in this city are now experiencing fuel poverty [i.e. spending 10% of their income on this bill] and there are one million households in Scotland living in such dire circumstances. And with the SNP Government cutting £20m from fuel poverty programmes and the CON-DEM coalition at Westminster reducing the winter fuel payment by 25% this shameful situation is unlikely to improve any time soon.
First Minister Alex Salmond promised to eradicate fuel poverty in Scotland by 2015. He is now further away from his goal than ever.As someone who campaigns on this issue regularly on the streets of Edinburgh I can report that people are absolutely furious at this situation. It is time the Government intervened to ensure bills are capped and to diversify away from burning fossil fuels as part of an affordable and sustainable energy policy.
[Letter published in the Edinburgh Evening News 12 July 2011]