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Friday, February 23, 2024

Freezing Bills Not Enough as Families Descend into Fuel Poverty

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The SNP has repeated its call for the UK government to slash energy bills by at least £500 – as new data shows the Tories have allowed millions of households to fall into fuel poverty.

Amid reports the UK government will abandon its shameful plan to raise the Energy Price Guarantee from £2,500 to £3,000, Stewart Hosie MP warned “Merely freezing bills at their current highly-inflated levels would not go anywhere near far enough”.

Instead, the SNP Economy spokesperson challenged the Tory government to slash bills by lowering the EPG to £2000 and continuing the £400 Energy Bill Support Payments beyond March for all households that currently receive it.

It comes as the UK government’s annual fuel poverty report shows the number of households in England who spend more than 10% of their income, after housing costs, on energy has increased from 4.93m households in 2021 to 7.39m in 2022.

The figures show more than a quarter (26%) of single parent families, and one in six (17%) couples with children, are now living in fuel poverty.

The Scottish Government estimates more than 1 in 3 households in Scotland could be pushed into fuel poverty, and 1 in 4 could be pushed into extreme fuel poverty, as a result of the energy bill price rises over the past year.

Commenting, SNP Economy spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said:

“It’s utterly shameful that the Tory government has pushed millions of families into fuel poverty and hardship by repeatedly raising energy bills, when they should be cutting them.

“With energy companies making record profits, and the wholesale price of gas falling, there is no excuse for Tory inaction.

“The Chancellor must scrap his completely unacceptable plan to raise energy bills yet again – and instead cut them by at least £500.

“Merely freezing bills at their current highly-inflated levels would not go anywhere near far enough – when many households are paying three times what they paid a year ago, and are struggling to get by.

“It’s also essential that the £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme payments continue for all households that currently receive them.

“The Tory government has ample resources to act – they must stop ripping families off and start putting money back in people’s pockets.

“Scotland is an energy rich country but families are paying an increasingly high price under Westminster control.

“By refusing to act, the Tories are showing Scotland would be better off as an independent country – with the powers needed to secure our energy supply and reduce bills.”

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