Energy Price Rises Report

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 8 September 2022.

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Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

5. To ask the Scottish Government when it will respond to the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee’s report on energy price rises. (S6O-01344)

Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

I am keen to provide the committee with as up-to-date a response as is possible. Now that we have details of the August price cap from Ofgem and the announcement by the United Kingdom Government this morning, I intend to provide the committee with a response shortly.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

The cabinet secretary will be aware that the report reflects evidence taken in April and May and that it stated, even then, that the looming crisis in energy prices must be responded to, by both the Scottish and UK Governments, on a scale similar to the response to the Covid pandemic.

Will the cabinet secretary agree to improve awareness of and access to the advice, advocacy and home insulation services that the Scottish Government is responsible for, on top of the immediate and welcome financial support, based on devolved powers, that was announced by the First Minister? Does he agree that any UK Government decision to freeze energy prices, even at this late stage, should be welcomed, although that decision would have been made more swiftly by an independent Scottish Government with similar powers?

Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

The committee’s report makes a number of important recommendations to both the Scottish and UK Governments about the action necessary to avert the crisis caused by the increasing costs that households face due to rising energy prices.

We have already announced £1.2 million of additional funding to support advice services and support customers who are experiencing difficulty, alongside a doubling of our fuel insecurity fund to help support those who are at risk of self-rationing or of self-disconnection from the energy network.

We will continue to look at what further measures we can take and will reflect on the announcement made by the UK Government this morning. There is absolutely no doubt that there has been a vacuum in political leadership from the UK Government on this issue for the past two months. In an independent Scotland, we would have been able to move swiftly to reassure households about how we would tackle the cost crisis.

Photo of Liam Kerr Liam Kerr Conservative

The report notes that homes that are not connected to the gas grid are often more expensive to heat. Given the Scottish Government’s drive to get owners of such homes to adopt electric heat pump technology, and noting Fiona Hyslop’s correct request for clear advice, can the cabinet secretary help me to understand the running costs of such technology, compared to the cost of fossil fuels in the current market?

Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

One of the key things that could be done to help to reduce the cost of electricity is to uncouple it from the wholesale gas price. The UK Government has the power to do that, and it would have an immediate impact in bringing down electricity costs for those who use electricity-based heat pumps.

One of the other measures that the UK Government could take to help to offset the very high costs of energy in rural areas and in those areas that are off grid is to regulate the oil market. That would help to reduce the costs of heating oil for the many households that are dependent on it. Despite a request for the UK Government to do that, however, it has continued to refuse to make it a part of the regulated sector.