First Minister to convene summit with energy suppliers and consumers

First Minister to convene summit with energy suppliers and consumers

Nicola Sturgeon

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will convene an urgent summit with energy supply companies and consumer groups later this month to discuss how advice and support for people struggling with energy bills can be improved.

The summit will consider what collective action can be taken by government, energy companies and the third sector to help businesses and consumers access advice, and get support with debt issues.

Scotland’s major energy suppliers including Scottish Power, OVO Energy, Centrica, Octopus and E.ON, as well as industry bodies and key consumer and poverty organisations will attend.

The summit follows last week’s meeting of the Scottish Government Resilience Committee on the cost living crisis and will take place ahead of Ofgem’s next energy price cap announcement on 26 August.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I know that this is an incredibly unsettling time for households and energy consumers across Scotland and the Scottish Government will continue to do everything we can to support those affected.

“There is a not a single solution to this problem and government, industry and the third sector in Scotland needs to work collaboratively together to ensure the right support is in place for householders and businesses during this challenging winter. This could include improving the availability of help and advice and considering a more compassionate approach to debt management.

“However, it remains the case that the powers and resources needed to tackle this emergency on the scale required - access to borrowing, welfare, VAT on fuel, taxation of windfall profits, regulation of the energy market - lie with the UK Government. Only the UK Government can access and make available resources on the scale required. They need to take action, now.

“As I said last week, a first step would be to cancel the energy price cap rise this autumn.”

Peter Kelly, director, The Poverty Alliance, added: “We are pleased that the First Minister will be convening this summit of energy companies, along with the Poverty Alliance and Energy Action Scotland.

“Across the country, people are increasingly being swept up amid a rising tide of hardship. But with the energy price cap due to increase in October, that tide threatens to become a flood.

“Households up and down Scotland are terrified of what the colder months will bring and the likelihood is that - without further action - lives and life chances will be at risk. The situation could scarcely be more urgent.

“But it is a situation we can do something about, by taking action to protect people most at risk of poverty and deeper hardship. It is that much-needed and urgent action that we are hoping the summit can bring about.”

Frazer Scott, CEO of Energy Action Scotland, said: “With our colleagues at the Poverty Alliance, we welcome the First Minister’s intervention in gathering energy companies together to talk about how we can best support households struggling to afford spiralling energy bills.

“Fuel poverty will affect over one million Scottish households this winter requiring urgent intervention focussed on targeting those most in need.

“Cold, damp homes affect health and wellbeing and will put thousands of lives at risk as well as adding additional pressure to the NHS, making this a vital intervention for Scotland.”

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