More action is needed to ensure more vulnerable people do not fall into fuel poverty, campaigners have said.
Norman Kerr, director of the charity Energy Action Scotland, called for a “significant boost” in the numbers receiving help from home insulation and energy efficiency schemes.
He spoke out before the charity’s 30th anniversary annual conference which comes in the wake of recent price increases by big energy companies.
” There needs to be a significant boost to the take-up of insulation and energy-efficient heating systems aimed at the most vulnerable to protect them from falling into fuel poverty and from struggling to pay their home energy bills,” he said.
“Living on a low income and in a hard-to-heat home is very tough on people, especially when they have young children or are older or have health or mobility problems.
“It is essential that people who face living in a cold home are given access to much-needed assistance and are made a priority.”
Housing Minister Margaret Burgess is expected to confirm the Scottish Government’s stated commitment to ending fuel poverty by 2016 when she opens the event which will bring together a range of organisations in an attempt to tackle fuel poverty.
It is a “scandal that there should be any fuel poverty in a country as energy-rich as Scotland”, she said.
” Despite rises in fuel prices, we are determined to help householders stay warm and reduce their energy bills and are actively working with councils and energy companies to tackle fuel poverty.”
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged action to reduce energy bills if the SNP is in power in an independent Scotland, with a commitment that levies on bills for tackling fuel poverty and improving energy efficiency would be paid direct by the Government.
This could cut household energy costs by 5%, or £70 a year, she said.
Ms Burgess said: ” With the powers of independence, this Government would tackle fuel poverty head-on by reducing energy prices by 5%, or around £70 per household, and meeting the costs of fuel poverty and energy-efficiency schemes through government spending.
“This will allow us to deal with fuel poverty much more directly, delivering Scottish solutions to Scottish problems.”
The conference is sponsored by ScottishPower whose chief executive officer for retail and generation Neil Clitheroe said: “ScottishPower welcomes the opportunity to sponsor Energy Action Scotland’s annual conference Realising An End To Fuel Poverty. We look forward to participating in the conference, and the agenda has a wide range of opportunity for debate and discussion.”