The Scottish National Party has highlighted a “tale of two futures “over the level of fuel poverty in the UK and called upon Westminster to take stronger action as thousands of households continue to face fuel poverty this New Year.
A report has warned that a UK government scheme to improve the energy efficiency of homes could take 30 years to succeed and add to energy prices in the meantime, yet the number of households in fuel poverty in Scotland has fallen.
Whilst 300,000 more households in the UK have been plunged into fuel poverty, the latest figures from the Scottish Government show the number of households in Scotland in fuel poverty have decreased from 721,000 (30.5%) in 2011 to 647, 000 (27.1%) in 2012.
South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine said:
“The reduction in Scottish households in fuel poverty is a real achievement of the Scottish Parliament which has always taken a much stronger stance on fuel poverty reduction measures than governments at Westminster, but it is completely unacceptable that in the twenty first century in an energy rich country so many Scots are still facing another winter in fuel poverty. The striking difference is a tale of two futures, continuing action from a Scottish Government or foot dragging from Westminster.
“At a time when wages are stagnant or, at best, rising well behind the rate of inflation, energy prices continue on their relentless rise throwing more households into fuel poverty and estimates suggest that for every 1% increase around 40,000 households are plunged into fuel poverty.
“The SNP has stated that in an independent Scotland we would remove the cost of energy efficiency measures from bills and place the cost on central Government funds - reducing bills by 5% or an average of £70 a year.
“The movement to renewable energy will reduce bills in the longer term, rather than depending on ruinously expensive nuclear power, as the UK intends to do.
"The Scottish Government is doing everything it can within its limited powers to provide a wide range of energy efficiency measures to individual households and to local authorities, and that is clearly having a positive effect, but Westminster is failing to keep pace. This means too many Scots continue to face fuel poverty, particularly in rural areas like Dumfries and Galloway, where much of the housing stock is older and many people remain off grid. We need the full powers of independence to fully tackle all the causes of fuel poverty."