Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today backed calls by the head of Scottish Power for more decisive action on fuel poverty ahead of the next energy price cap rise in October. Mr Carmichael warned that “now is the time to act, not when the snow and storms come”, but said that energy company bosses needed to play their role in softening the blow just as much as the government.
Keith Anderson, chief executive of Scottish Power has warned that as much as 40% of households could find themselves in fuel poverty by October due to a further expected rise in the energy price cap, and has urged a significant rebate for struggling families in order to counter this, funded by a long-term small surcharge on bills. Mr Anderson called for ten million households to have their energy bills reduced by £1,000 this October in the face of an expected energy price cap rise of between £2,500 and £3,000 a year.
Mr Carmichael said:
“Energy bills are already at record levels and the only thing mitigating that harm is the fact that we are in the warmer part of the year right now. We have to make use of the time that we have and so it is frustrating that the government continues to procrastinate on this matter.
“This is a once-in-a-generation price crunch on fuel – ministers cannot simply ignore it, and nor can the energy companies themselves. Both need to understand that driving families into further fuel poverty now, in the name of protecting the bottom line, will only lead to economic scarring and worse outcomes for all. We need tangible cuts to energy bills in the here and now, or fuel poverty will only worsen in the coming months. The measures announced to date are just a drop in the ocean, but a proper and significant rebate could make a meaningful impact for struggling families.
“Now is the time to act, not when the snow and storms come. If the government continues to kick the can down the road on energy bills then it will be too late when winter hits.”