Scottish Power has just announced a 19% rise in gas and electricity bills -the whole country is up in arms at this latest hike in charges - and it's likely it will not be the only energy company to do so. But with one in three Scots families already in fuel poverty [up from 293,000 in 2002] the situation is now critical.
Gas and electricity charges have risen more than 80% in 3 years. The average household bill is now over £1,500 a year and Scottish Power wants to raise them by another £200. The SNP Government promised to eradicate fuel poverty in Scotland by 2014. This pledge now lies in tatters.
Shelter Scotland, the housing charity,reports that families living in poorly insulated homes are the worst affected as costly heat escapes through badly insulated walls, windows,doors and roofs. They want the Scottish Government to build 100,000 fuel-efficient council houses each year to reduce energy bills and tackle chronic homelessness. Last year the SNP built just 6,000.
I have written to the First Minister, Alex Salmond, demanding he steps in and caps gas and electricity prices. People in Scotland do not have the money for another 19% rise, not when incomes are being held down. Wages have not risen, pensions have not risen, benefits have not risen and yet Scottish Power wants another 19% out of us!
Well they are not on. This really is the last straw.In the long term the Scottish Government must step up investment in renewable energy in order to diversify away from gas, oil and coal. Taking the power companies back into public ownership must be a priority, in order to ensure the profits this industry makes from the public benefit everyone. But people cannot wait that long, Alex Salmond must act now to cap gas and electricity bills and say enough is enough.