Fuel Poverty

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 27 April 2022.

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Photo of Bob Doris Bob Doris Scottish National Party

1. To ask the Scottish Government what assessment has been made of the impact of rising energy costs on fuel poverty in the most deprived communities. (S6O-00998)

Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

We are doing all that we can within our devolved powers to support households, including support through our £10 million fuel insecurity fund and expanded support to improve home energy efficiency. However, only the United Kingdom Government has the powers over energy pricing and obligations that are necessary to fully address the cost pressures on households.

Our analysis suggests that the increase in the energy price cap could move an additional 211,000 households into fuel poverty, which represents a 43 per cent increase from 2019. For the most deprived 15 per cent of communities in Scotland, the increase is estimated to be even greater—it rises to 54 per cent.

Photo of Bob Doris Bob Doris Scottish National Party

I have been contacted by community heat customers in the Wyndford estate who are facing eye-watering price increases for heat and hot water—tariffs are to more than double. I have had a constructive meeting with SSE, but the relationship between rising wholesale gas prices and the additional cost of running community heating is unclear.

I made specific suggestions to lower costs, which included urging SSE to rethink the tariff increases. Will the cabinet secretary join me in urging SSE to do that and in urging other community heat providers to constrain prices, given that one of the underlying purposes in the first place for many heat networks, including that in the Wyndford estate in my constituency, was to tackle fuel poverty?

Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

I am aware of the issue that the member raises. I can advise him that my officials have met Citizens Advice Scotland representatives to discuss the issue and have been in contact with SSE to raise concerns about affordability and debt among community heat customers in Wyndford. I assure the member that we will continue to press SSE to help to resolve those issues, but he will recognise that there are complexities given the nature of the energy market and the fact that energy prices—even electricity prices—are being driven largely by the wholesale gas price at the international level. I encourage the member and any of his constituents who are experiencing difficulty in the interim to contact Home Energy Scotland, which can provide them with advice and support to help them in reducing their overall energy costs.