A GREENS minister has called on the UK Government to rethink its “woefully inadequate” new energy blueprint after being put under pressure to accelerate insulation of buildings to tackle fuel poverty.
Zero Carbon Buildings Minister Patrick Harvie pointed the finger at the Tory Government at Westminster for failing to bring forward measures to better insulate homes in its new energy security strategy.
The UK Government has been under pressure to do more to help households mitigate the cost-of-living crisis as fuel bills continue to soar and another expected rise for consumers in the autumn.
But the Scottish Government has also faced some criticism for the level of action to help ease the pressure on households.
Labor MSP Mark Griffin quizzed Mr Harvie over what plans the Scottish Government was putting in place amid reports from the chief executive of Scottish Power that up to 10 million homes across the UK could face fuel poverty this coming winter.
Keith Anderson, chief executive of Scottish Power has warned that another expected rise in energy bills in October to between £2,500 and £3,000 a year could lead to many customers unable to pay their bills.
He has called for ten million households to have their energy bills reduced by £1,000 this October.
Mr Harvie warned that “more does need to be done”, but stressed that “powers relating to energy markets sit at a UK level”.
He added: “We’ve repeatedly urged the UK Government to take urgent and decisive action to support households, both in the immediate and longer-term – like a one-off windfall tax on companies benefitting from significantly higher profits during the pandemic and the energy crisis and the temporary removal of VAT on energy bills.
“We’re actively engaging with the sector and stakeholders such as through the Scottish Energy Advisory Board, which the chief executive of ScottishPower is a member, to explore what more can be done.
“We believe that all four nations should be involved in planning to address this crisis that affects people throughout the UK.”
But Mr Griffin stressed the need to “make people’s homes as cheap to heat as humanly possible”.
He added: “The energy cap will go up in just four and a half months, so the underlying principle to reduce heat demand ahead of time is even more urgent this year.
“Will the Government come before parliament before recess and set out how many homes they can insulate before this winter?”
Mr Harvie declined the opportunity to commit to set out how many homes in Scotland can be insulated before next winter, but insisted that “energy efficiency is one of the most urgent things that we need to do”.
He pointed to the need to be “calling on the UK to revise its woefully inadequate energy security strategy which said nothing at all about energy efficiency”.