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Resignation of Fuel Poverty Chairman 'a shock and a blow'

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) have expressed concern at the resignation of Graham Blount as Chair of the Fuel Poverty Forum. Rev Blount resigned today in a letter to Communities Minister Alex Neil, in which he said the government has been excluding the Forum from key discussions. CAS is a member of the Forum.

CAS Chief Executive Lucy McTernan said,

“This is a shock, and the first thing we would want to do is pay tribute to Graham’s tireless efforts in leading the group over the years. He is a former Chair of CAS, so we know what a great champion he is for people who are in need. He has led the Fuel Poverty Forum with energy and vision, and with a real feel for the practical implications that policy decisions have on those who need help the most.

“For those reasons his resignation is a real blow to the campaign to eradicate fuel poverty. Last year the government revealed that one third of Scots households are now in fuel poverty. That is a shocking figure, and shows that this is now one of the biggest social problems facing Scotland today. The government in fact has had a good record of consulting with a broad range of opinion on this issue, and the Fuel Poverty Forum has been key in this process. Indeed we have welcomed many of the initiatives that have emerged from this collaboration.

“It is deeply worrying therefore that someone of Graham’s stature feels that the group is being sidelined and excluded from major new policy initiatives. Scottish CAB advisers deal with many cases of fuel poverty, and on behalf of those clients we would want to seek a clear assurance from Ministers that the government remains fully committed to proper consultation and to working closely with the Fuel Poverty Forum and others.

“It is simply unacceptable that one third of Scots are struggling to heat their homes. There needs to be a really strong strategy and a broad front to beat this problem. We can’t afford to lose people like Graham Blount from that effort.”

For more information, or interviews, contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010 or 07774 751655.