SNP to push for ban on preferential energy tariffs for new customers over existing ones amid fuel crisis

The SNP will today push for a ban on preferential energy tariffs for new customers over existing ones.

SNP MP Martyn Day’s Energy Pricing Bill will have its second reading in the Commons on Friday, and would also see further restrictions on energy pricing if it passes its third.

The Linlithgow and East Falkirk MP has warned fuel poverty could rise drastically across the UK as the winter months approach, energy usage and prices surge in households, and people struggle with the cost of living.

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He said: “We are approaching the bitter winter period and it comes at a time when thousands of people are still struggling due to the coronavirus crisis and six million have just had their incomes cut by £1,040 through Universal Credit cuts.

The SNP are calling for a ban on preferential energy tariffs for new customers.

“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. That means backing my bill and bringing in an emergency energy grant.

“I urge the UK Government to heed the calls and urgently look at bringing in measures to support households struggling to pay their energy bills and to help prevent them accruing unmanageable debts.

“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."

The reading comes as the head of Scottish Power warned Britain’s gas crisis will keep driving energy bills higher until 2023, and could leave only five or six of the suppliers standing.

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Keith Anderson, chief executive of Scottish Power, claimed the UK's record prices could see households face another 18 months of soaring bills and energy supplies going under.

He said: “Customers are going to get a huge increase in their bills next April, and in October, and I suspect that they’ll see another increase in their bills six months later.

“All of that financial stress will hit the companies left in the market. It will only be the biggest and the strongest which can survive this pressure.”

The warnings came as Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) warned the number of people unable to pay their energy bills before running out of money is rising.

Polling data collected for by YouGov for CAS indicated the number of people who missed bills rose by 44 per cent between 2020 and this year.

Around 9 per cent of people in Scotland were in this category last year, climbing to 13 per cent this year.

CAS senior energy policy officer Alastair Wilcox warned the number missing bills was likely to rise even further.

He said: “This increase is hugely worrying.

“One in ten people unable to pay for their energy because of a lack of cash was unacceptable in the first place.

“That it soared to more than one in seven during the pandemic shows the strain household budgets are under.

“Sadly, there is a very real risk these numbers will climb higher in the year to come, with energy prices increasing and the ongoing problems in the energy market."