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Climate crisis and fuel poverty are a dangerous link – Lorna Slater
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Climate crisis and fuel poverty are a dangerous link – Lorna Slater


Lorna Slater

People on low incomes in Edinburgh and elsewhere are already being affected by a downward spiral in national insurance premiums and stagnant salaries. Many are being punished further by the UK government’s disastrous Brexit and its brutal cuts to Universal Credit.

For far too many, the choice between heating or eating is already a difficult and real one. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation warns low-income single-adult households that they could soon have to spend 54% on electricity and gas.

This perfect storm of austerity is one reason why Bank of England stated that we are currently facing the largest drop in living standards ever since records began 30 year ago.

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We must end our dependence upon gas if we want to reduce the cost of energy. Also, we must end the relationship between fuel bills and gas prices.

One of the biggest long-term causes of the hike was former Prime Minister, David Cameron’s decision to cut energy-efficiency subsidies. This has led to a dependence on gas to heat homes, and a failure of government to properly invest in renewable energy.

Analysis from Carbon Brief shows that this decision added £2.5 billion to UK energy bills. It is because of this that tackling fuel poverty and our climate emissions must be reduced.

We are using the power we have as Greens in Government to address the crisis. In April we are doubling the Scottish Child Payment, which will be worth an additional £500 a year for every child. Last week also saw the introduction free bus travel to all 21-year-olds and younger. This will save families hundreds of dollars, while also helping to reduce pollution levels and carbon emissions.

We are also working on reducing our dependence upon fossil fuels. Over the course of this Parliamentary term we are doubling onshore wind capacity, boosting marine energy and investing at least £1.8 billion in net zero buildings and warmer homes. These are important changes that will create thousands more jobs and make a huge difference to the environment and economy.

The reality is that only the UK Government has the power and resources required to respond to the latest outrageous energy price rises under the current devolution agreement.

The Chancellor Rishi SunakHe said that he would provide additional funds for Scotland’s Government. Every penny of this money will be used to offset the current cost of living crisis. However, the amount he offers is not sufficient.

Nor do the UK government’s proposals to offer loans to cover part of the costs or to spread the costs over future bills is too little too late, especially when there is no certainty about future prices.

People are suffering, and every level of government has a responsibility to help. We here in Scotland are aware of the magnitude of the crisis and have taken action. Downing Street must do the same. There is no time to waste.

If you would like advice on how rising energy prices may impact you, or how you can lower your bills, then visit

Lorna is a Lothian Green MSP. She is also Minister for Green Skills.


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