The SNP has warned that fuel poverty could rise drastically across the UK as the winter months approach, energy usage surges in households, and people struggle to navigate through the economic hit to jobs and income due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ahead of an SNP-led debate in Westminster today on fuel poverty, SNP MP Martyn Day has renewed calls on the UK government to bring forward an emergency energy grant to help struggling households pay their energy bills and prevent them accruing unmanageable debts.
In Scotland, the SNP Government has taken the steps it can and introduced the Child Winter Heating Assistance – a new £200 payment to help families of severely disabled children.
And by the end of 2021 will have allocated over £1 billion since 2009 to tackling fuel poverty and improving energy efficiency.
Research from the comparison site, Comparethemarket.com, revealed earlier this year that with more people staying at home, households could see a 37% surge in energy bills – an average increase of almost £32 per month.
It also found that 72% of those surveyed said they had increased their energy usage during the lockdown measures.
Martyn Day MP, who will be leading for the party in the Westminster Hall debate today, commented:
“We are approaching the bitter winter period and it comes at a time when thousands of people have lost their jobs and livelihoods due to the coronavirus crisis, we face the threat and chaos of a low deal or no deal Brexit in just a matter of weeks, and households have to endure an inadequate social security safety net after a decade of devastating Tory austerity.
“It is absolutely critical that the UK government acts now to prevent more families and individuals being pushed into hardship and facing fuel poverty through no fault of their own.
“Earlier this year, the SNP called for a package of measures to help households get through the crisis.
“I urge the UK government to heed the calls and urgently look to introduce an Emergency Coronavirus Energy Grant to support households struggling to pay their energy bills and to help prevent them accruing unmanageable debts.
“The UK government must step up to the challenge facing people by also bringing forward other crucial measures, including making the £20 Universal Credit uplift permanent – and for an equivalent uplift to be extended to all legacy benefits – strengthening welfare protections, and support for the 3 million people who have been completely excluded from UK Covid-19 support schemes.
“Against the backdrop of Tory inaction at Westminster, the Scottish Government in contrast has been taking bold and progressive action to tackle the blight of fuel poverty where it can.
“It has invested £1bn to improve energy efficiency in homes since 2009 and launched the Child Winter Heating Assistance for families with a severely disabled child.”