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Tackling fuel poverty

25th January 2013

The energy sector and the UK Government must take immediate action to help Scots facing the hardship of fuel poverty, Housing and Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess said today.

After a fuel poverty debate in Parliament, the Minister outlined six key demands she will raise at a joint fuel poverty summit with the UK Government which will take place tomorrow (January 23rd) in Edinburgh.

All of the big six energy companies will be at the summit, along with Ed Davey, the UK Government's Energy Secretary, Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland, Ofgem and consumer groups like Consumer Focus Scotland.

The six demands are:

1. That the UK Government takes immediate action to improve regulation of energy companies, to ensure that consumers are better protected against further price hikes
2. That Ofgem immediately publishes the outcomes of its investigation into wholesale energy price fixing claims, and follows up with required actions as soon as possible
3. That the UK Government ensures the Scottish Government receives robust and relevant information on how its new ECO scheme is being delivered in Scotland
4. That energy companies take immediate action to protect vulnerable households, including rolling out a pilot scheme to help consumers access cheap energy tariffs. The Energy Best Deal Plus pilot scheme was launched in July 2012 and is still to be rolled out across the country
5. That energy companies commit to a minimum level of funding in Scotland to support Scottish Government energy efficiency programmes, including a fair share of Energy Company Obligation targets for Scotland based on the market share
6. That the UK Government ensures that the costs of the ECO initiative are passed onto consumers in a way which best protects the poorest and most vulnerable households.

Ms Burgess said:"In an energy rich country like Scotland it is absolutely scandalous that so many people are being forced to choose between heating and eating.

"In spite of the concerted efforts of the Scottish Government to help households reduce their energy bills through the provision of energy efficiency grants and initiatives, tens of thousands of families were pushed into fuel poverty last year as a direct result of energy company price rises.

"While we are doing everything we can within our devolved powers to tackle this problem - including committing a budget of 68 million for fuel poverty and energy efficiency programmes this year alone - key levers remain out with our control. We need immediate and urgent action from the UK Government, energy companies and Ofgem to help more households across Scotland where fuel bills mean people are struggling to make ends meet.

"That is why we are using this energy summit to pinpoint our key demands which will help protect vulnerable people and ensure that our households are better supported.

"It is my belief that everyone in Scotland should live in a warm and safe home that doesn't cost the earth to heat.

"I would urge anyone who is concerned about their energy bills to contact our Home Energy Scotland Hotline, free on 0800 512

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