The current cold snap serves to chillingly remind us how much we all rely on adequate supplies of heating in our homes.
This is no time to be without gas and electricity and yet the cost of such essential supplies has doubled in the past 5 years. Unfortunately people's wages, pensions and benefits have not kept pace. As a result one in three households in Scotland is, according to Scottish Government figures, now living in fuel poverty.
This appalling circumstance has been aggravated by Government decisions to cut the winter fuel allowance and slash grants for energy efficiency improvements.
I have been overwhelmed by the public's response to a Scottish Socialist Party petition calling for prices to be reduced and Government cuts reversed. The 5% fall in gas bills announced in December has had next to no effect on the levels of fuel poverty and that's because it followed a 19% rise in gas and electricity bills in October.
The Scottish Socialist Party is calling on all those with an interest in eradicating fuel poverty and returning the energy industry to public ownership to come together for a conference in Edinburgh in March to examine how best to reverse the policy direction of the energy companies and Governments at both Westminster and Holyrood.
Scottish Socialist Party
Published in the Edinburgh Evening News 7th February 2012