Sunday, 14 August 2011

Salmond's Cold Comfort to Millions of Scots Facing Fuel Poverty

Here's the reply I received from First Minister Alex Salmond to my letter containing a 2,000 signature petition demanding action to eradicate fuel poverty.

I thought you should see it.

It arrived on the same day as Britain's Fuel Poverty Action Group told Channel Four News the governments figures on fuel poverty grievously understate the extent of the problem. Mr Derek Lickorish, Chairman of FPAG, revealed there are now 6.6 million households in Britain experiencing fuel poverty [defined as spending 10% or more of household income on gas and electricity] with more than one million of these in Scotland.

Scotland has a significantly greater problem pro-rata than south of the border. But Alex Salmond's letter, as you can see for yourself, offers cold comfort to those facing real hardship. His government, in common with his counterparts at Westminster, have cut funding to programmes aimed at reducing fuel poverty. Indeed the SNP made a cast iron commitment in 2007 to eradicating fuel poverty in Scotland by 2014, but this promise has now been abandoned.

The 'agreement' he refers to in his letter 'to spend up to £10million upgrading insulation and heating systems' is unfortunately a pittance in the circumstances. The average household bill for gas and electricity is now almost £1,500 so £10million, even if it was spent on the one million households in severest need, amounts to very little indeed.

Come on Alex, this isn't what you promised us and it certainly isn't what the people of Scotland voted for on May 5th!

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