>> 13 July 2010

Gordon MSP Alex Salmond has joined SNP MPs at Westminster in calling on the UK Government to take more action to help those in fuel poverty, especially those not connected to the gas grid.

Across Aberdeenshire, thousands of people rely on domestic oil to heat their homes. With prices trebling over the past 8 years, many households are finding bills harder and harder to pay.

This week, domestic heating oil prices were around 47p per litre compared with around 15p a litre in 2002. For someone taking delivery of 1000 litres, this represents a difference in price of £470 compared to just £150.

While mains gas and electricity prices have also increased in that time, the increase has not been as dramatic as it has been for fuel oil.

In a House of Commons debate on Fuel Poverty the SNP has put across the point that those off the gas grid “slipped through the cracks” and did not receive the benefit of social tariffs.

The SNP is calling upon the UK government to adopt a scheme that they put forward during the debates on last years Energy Act to spread the cost of social tariffs amongst all fuel providers. In response, the energy minister has indicated that he is prepared to consider the idea.

Commenting on the issue, Mr Salmond said:

“It’s vital that a wide range of measures are used to help those that are fuel poor.

“Gordon has a large rural area unconnected to mains gas and with significant areas with much colder winter weather it is a serious burden for lower income families, particularly pensioners.

“For a customer using 2,000 litres of oil a year, the increased cost in the last 8 years is around 6 to 7 hundred pounds. This is a whopping increase and equates to millions of pounds leaking out of hard-pressed families pockets and away from the local economy.

“Heat is a basic human need. I want to see a system of social tariffs available to customers using all forms of energy. That is extremely important for people across Scotland.

“For far too long, the difficulties of bringing help to those off the gas grid has been rejected as simply too difficult. What we need is a solution which ensures that all those who are living in fuel poverty can get the help they need.”

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