Emergency energy payment is needed

Lanark and Hamilton East MP Angela Crawley is urging the UK Government to introduce an emergency energy payment for low-income families – as fuel poverty charities back the measure.

Hundreds of families in Lanark and Hamilton East could face the choice between heating or eating this winter if the UK government fails to introduce a new payment to mitigate against soaring energy bills, Tory cuts, tax hikes and the growing cost of Brexit.

Tackling the Tory cost of living crisis must be the central focus of the budget – however many families cannot afford to wait with Tory cuts to Universal Credit and rising bills already hitting those on the lowest incomes.

Both National Energy Action (NEA) and the End Fuel Poverty Coalition have backed calls for a new energy payment targeted at low-income households. NEA estimates that an energy price cap hike of between £400 and £600 could plunge an additional 1.2 to 1.5 million UK households into fuel poverty – warning “without additional support, we’re really worried about the risk of needless death and cold-related morbidity this winter”.

Commenting, Lanark and Hamilton East MP Angela Crawley said:

“The UK government has stuck its head in the sand and repeatedly ignored our calls for an emergency energy payment for low-income families – but pressure is mounting on the Chancellor to finally act.

“The UK is facing a dangerous Tory cost of living crisis – with low- and middle-income families being hammered by Tory cuts, regressive tax hikes, rising energy bills and the soaring cost of Brexit. If the Chancellor fails to take responsibility and deliver the help that is needed, many families – including hundreds in my constituency – will be forced to choose between heating and eating this winter.

“Under the Tories, the UK already has the worst levels of poverty and inequality in northwest Europe – and the highest levels of in-work poverty this century. It beggars belief that instead of taking action to tackle poverty the UK government is making it even worse by slashing the incomes of millions of households.

“Tackling the Tory cost of living crisis must be the central focus of the Budget – but many families cannot afford to wait for help with Tory cuts already hitting home. The Treasury will benefit from higher VAT returns on our energy bills, higher oil and gas revenues and higher petrol duties. It is time to redistribute this extra money being raised.

“The SNP will continue to press for action, but it is clearer than ever that the only way to keep Scotland safe from Tory cuts is to become an independent country – with the full powers needed to build a fair recovery and eradicate poverty.”