I read with real alarm your story (24 September) that fuel poverty in Scotland has reached new heights: 940,000 Scottish households in fuel poverty, or two in every five homes across the country. It is a truly shocking statistic and of real concern as the cold nights approach.
Elizabeth Gore’s informative article also showed that it was not just the single pensioner, but young families with children who are struggling to pay for fuel bills, putting their health and well-being at risk.
She is exactly right to say energy efficiency schemes, often led by councils, are critical to reduce fuel poverty. Yet we see the UK Government diluting the fuel poverty statistics and not stepping up to the mark to fund energy efficiency programmes either. It is incumbent on the Scottish Government to do all it can to put pressure on the UK Government to focus more resources on tackling fuel poverty.
It must do all it can as well to find new resources itself to reduce this problem, given it is a statutory responsibility. Politicians of all political parties in Scotland need to work together as well to challenge energy policy changes at Westminster, including an obsession with spending billions on new nuclear power stations.
These policy changes are fundamentally letting down the most vulnerable people in our society, often having to choose between a warm meal or putting the heating on. Our councils are doing what they can to support them, but with such severe cuts to their budgets, cannot do it without more government support. In 2015 such levels of fuel poverty are scandalous. As politicians we are duty-bound to find solutions to sort this complicated problem out, as I really fear what a cold winter could bring to many people in Scotland.
(Cllr) Bill Butler
Convener, Nuclear Free Local Authorities Scotland
Glasgow City Chambers