SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed the financial support committed by the Scottish Government yesterday afternoon to help households across Scotland with the cost of living crisis, though emphasised that this was a problem created by the UK Government, and one which only they had the power to fix.
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes outlined plans to give 73% of Scottish households (those in council tax bands A to D and those eligible for council tax reduction) a £150 payment, with a further £10m to be targeted at people struggling with fuel bills.
Before the budget amendments were announced, Allan again raised the issue of the significantly higher impact of the price cap rise on island homes with Energy Secretary Michael Matheson, asking:
“The UK’s recent price cap hike will cause many energy bills in the Western Isles to rise potentially even higher than Ofgem’s 54% increase from April, but what can the Scottish Government do to press the UK Government to remedy what has just been inflicted on vulnerable people in the islands?”
The Energy Secretary was sympathetic and said the UK Government should look to remove the obligations which are placed on energy tariffs which would help to reduce the cost of electricity as a source of heating, as well as expanding the Warm Homes Discount Scheme.
Allan has also lodged a motion emphasising the devastating consequences of rising energy bills for island households in particular, and is hoping to secure a Members’ Debate on the issue.
Commenting, Allan said:
“Matters cannot continue as they are, with crippling energy bills for islanders set to get even worse if no interventions are made.
“The Scottish Government’s cost of living payment will be of help to many, but as the Finance Secretary herself recognised, this is not enough, and urgent action is still needed from the UK Government, who have allowed this situation to happen. In law, the power to legislate on energy matters rests with Westminster.
“I am calling on the UK Government again to urgently reconsider their unfair and outdated energy distribution levies, and to commit to doing far more to support people in the islands and across Scotland who will find April’s price increases extremely difficult to absorb – in other words, the majority of the population.”
Full text of the motion: https://www.parliament.scot/chamber-and-committees/votes-and-motions/votes-and-motions-search/S6M-03083
Video of energy question 10/02/22: https://www.scottishparliament.tv/meeting/meeting-of-the-parliament-february-10-2022?clip_start=11:59:07&clip_end=12:01:32