First Minister convenes round table on growing cost emergency.
The First Minister will convene an urgent summit later this month with utility and consumer groups to discuss how to improve advice and support for people struggling with energy bills.
The summit will examine what joint actions governments, energy companies and the third sector can take to improve access to advice and support for businesses and consumers on debt problems.
Scotland’s largest energy suppliers, including Scottish Power, OVO Energy, Centrica, Octopus and E.ON, will attend, as well as industry associations and key consumer and poverty groups.
The summit follows last week’s Scottish Government Resilience Committee meeting on the cost of living crisis and will take place ahead of OfGem’s next energy price cap announcement on 26 August.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“I know this is an incredibly worrying time for households and energy consumers across Scotland and the Scottish Government will continue to do everything possible to support those affected.
“There is no single solution to this problem and government, industry and the third sector in Scotland need to work together to ensure homes and businesses have the right support during this challenging winter. This could include improving the availability of help and advice and considering a more compassionate approach to debt management.
“However, it remains that the powers and resources needed to deal with this emergency to the extent required – access to credit, welfare benefits, VAT on fuel, taxation of windfall profits, regulation of the energy market – rest with the UK Government. Only the UK Government can access and make available resources to the extent required. You must act now.
“As I said last week, a first step would be to cancel the energy price cap hike this fall.”
Peter Kelly, Director of The Poverty Alliance said:
“We are delighted that the First Minister will convene this Energy Business Summit together with the Poverty Alliance and Energy Action Scotland.
“Across the country, people are increasingly being gripped by a rising tide of need. But with the energy price cap set to be raised in October, that tide threatens to become a tide.
“Households across Scotland are terrified of what the colder months will bring and there is a high likelihood that – without further action – lives and life chances are at stake. The situation could hardly be more urgent.
“But it is a situation we can do something about by taking action to protect those most at risk of poverty and greater hardship. It is this much-needed and urgent action that we hope to see from the summit.”
Frazer Scott, CEO of Energy Action Scotland said:
“With our colleagues at the Poverty Alliance, we welcome the First Secretary’s intervention to bring energy companies together to discuss how we can best support households struggling with rising energy bills.
“Fuel poverty will affect over a million Scottish households this winter, requiring urgent action focused on those most in need.
“Cold, damp homes affect health and well-being and will put thousands of lives at risk and put additional pressure on the NHS, making this a vital intervention for Scotland.”
The Scottish Government estimates that 906,000 or 36% of all households will be affected by energy poverty in October 2022, based on an Ofgem price cap of £2,800 and taking into account previously announced government mitigation measures.
The Scottish Government’s Resilience Committee met on Thursday 11 August to discuss the cost emergency and agreed on a range of actions.
Households can access free and impartial support through Home Energy Scotland to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Home Energy Scotland can be contacted on freephone 0808 808 2282 or via the Home Energy Scotland website.
The Scottish Government this year expanded the capacity of its Home Energy Scotland advisory service to help an additional 12,000 homes a year.
The Scottish Government has earmarked almost £3 billion this budget year to help households cope with the rising cost of living. This includes the provision of services and financial support not available elsewhere in the UK, helping to reduce daily expenses and increase income.
It also includes £10m to continue our fuel insecurity fund – to help households at risk of severely rationing their energy use or going completely off-grid. This includes direct support to households using any tariff or fuel type and is delivered through trusted third sector partners – the Fuel Bank Foundation, Advice Direct Scotland and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations.