Citizens Advice Scotland today urged the Scottish Government to implement new plans to help the growing number of Scots who are having to choose between heating and eating.
The Fuel Poverty Forum, of which CAS is a member, has outlined a series of measures aimed at reducing fuel bills. One of the ideas - a National Retrofit Programme – would see insulation measures installed in the most vulnerable homes across the country.
Susan McPhee, Head of Policy at CAS said:
“With the average annual energy bill now double what it was in 2004, more and more people in Scotland are struggling to meet the costs of heating their homes.
“One third of Scots are now living in fuel poverty, and CAB advisers regularly report that people who come to them for financial advice are having to choose between heating their homes or putting food on the table. We believe that’s not a choice anyone should have to make in 21st century Scotland, and yet for one in three of our citizens it is the reality.
“We have been very pleased to have been involved in the Fuel Poverty Forum, and to have had the chance to speak up for those consumers. We believe the Forum’s recommendations today offer some positive and realistic steps which – if implemented - really will cut energy bills for domestic customers.
“So we very much welcome the report and look forward to seeing government and energy companies acting on these initiatives quickly. These are practical and achievable steps which will make a real difference to many people. This is just the sort of concerted action that is needed to reduce household energy bills.”
For CAS interviews please contact Sarah Beattie-Smith on 0131 550 1016 or Tony Hutson on 07774 751655.
The Fuel Poverty Forum published its interim report today. Its key recommendations are:
- The Scottish Government should work with energy companies and local authorities to develop a National Retrofit Programme.
- A National Retrofit Programme should deliver support to households through comprehensive area based schemes with an initial focus on areas of fuel poverty and other deprivation across Scotland.
- This National Retrofit Programme should use Scottish Government funding to lever in significant additional support and make all parts of Scotland the most attractive place in Britain for energy companies to discharge their obligations to support energy efficiency.
- Energy companies should support trusted advisory bodies to ensure that vulnerable customers are provided with direct help to access the most appropriate tariffs and all other available support to reduce fuel bills.
- The UK Government should ensure that the forthcoming Energy Company Obligation (ECO) should be accompanied by other energy services suitable for fuel poor households including benefit checks, energy tariff checks and other social programmes. ECO should also be delivered to all parts of Scotland, including rural and remote areas, with clear reporting on uptake.
- Scottish specific research should therefore be undertaken to provide a better understanding of the causes and incidence of fuel poverty in Scotland and in order to inform final progress against the target to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016.
The full report is available at:http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/Housing/warmhomes/fuelpoverty/ScottishFuelPovertyForum