SNP Westminster Energy Spokesperson Mike Weir MP, is pushing the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to use the Fuel Poverty Strategy to tackle some of the discrimination against those energy consumers who are off the gas grid.
Speaking during DECC questions in the House of Commons Mr Weir raised the issues of early payment of winter fuel allowances to off grid pensioners, together with the lack of the opportunity to install home heating oil boilers under the Affordable Heat element of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme.
Mr Weir has long campaigned on both issues, highlighting the Big 6 energy company’s refusal to provide home heating oil and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) fired boilers to consumers living beyond the mains gas network. Commenting on the Fuel Poverty Strategy, Mr Weir said, “Under devolution the level of fuel poverty in Scotland has improved markedly and is now below the UK average due to the strong measures taken by the Scottish Parliament. Unfortunately, however, many of the levers for tackling fuel poverty off the gas grid remain with the Westminster parliament. These consumers are so often the forgotten victims of spiralling energy costs and it is long past time when action should be taken to deal with the problems of this sector.”
“Simply by allowing off gas grid pensioners to receive their winter fuel allowance early would enable them to buy home heating oil when the price tends to be lower, at little or no extra cost to government. I have pressed both this and the previous Labour government on this issue and cannot see why they have been so reluctant to take this simple step.”
“They should also tackle the clear discrimination from the big 6 energy companies in their ECO schemes where they will cover new gas boilers but will not cover off gas grid boilers for home heating or LPG. These schemes are supposed to be technology neutral but clearly are not.”
“The new Fuel Poverty Strategy is a perfect opportunity to tackle these matters and I am disappointed that ministers do not seem to be prepared to grasp the nettle and finally take action to end the discrimination against energy consumers in rural areas.”