Speaking after today’s energy summit alongside First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Poverty Alliance director Peter Kelly said:
“The situation we face is of a magnitude that requires a pandemic-level response. Energy companies, as well as every level of government, have a moral duty to act. Today’s summit was a constructive start, with all those attending recognising the scale and urgency of the response needed. The commitment for all parties to reconvene again once the new Prime Minister is in place, so that more specific, concrete actions can be agreed is important. This is not a problem that can be solved by a one-off discussion.
“It’s welcome that the energy companies have backed the idea of cancelling any further price increase for domestic customers. Now they need to make that idea a reality in discussions with Ofgem and the UK Government. It was quite clear that without significant action by the UK Government there will be a level of social suffering that is entirely unacceptable.
Commitments by energy companies to scale up their customer services and to work with advice organisations are welcome. Advice and support will be vital as bills mount – no one should be left to struggle alone this winter.
“Nothing should be off the table when looking at how best to mitigate the impact of energy price increases. Additional cash support for households will therefore be considered as part of the Scottish Government’s emergency budget review. We would urge the Scottish Government to use all of their powers to increase cash support, through measures like the Scottish Child Payment and the Low-Income Winter Heating Assistance scheme. While supporting people to make their homes warmer and more energy efficient is important, that must be matched with increased investment so that households can afford to put these much-needed measures in place.
“This is a moment of decision for government, and for all of us. Decades of falling wage values and cuts to social security have left people under constant pressure to make ends meet. A failure to sufficiently invest in renewal sources of energy and to deliver on a programme of home insulation as left us ill prepared for this crisis. We need to seize this moment and start to redesign our economy and rebuild our social security system, so that people have the income they need to live in dignity and security.”
Listen to Peter being interviewed by John Beattie on BBC Radio Scotland’s Drivetime programme following the summit.