A Renfrewshire councillor is calling for the UK Government to reintroduce their Energy Bill Support Scheme.
Help was put in place last year by the UK Government through a grant of six staggered payments amounting to £400 to all households during winter 2022 to 2023 after energy costs almost doubled for most people.
However, support for the scheme ended in March this year and has not been made available this winter.
Councillor Robert Innes wants to bring back the payment to help struggling households.
Cllr Innes proposed a motion last Thursday at Renfrewshire Council’s full council meeting asking that Renfrewshire Council write to the UK Government urging them to reintroduce the Energy Bill Support Scheme this winter.
The motion was passed by 37 councillors out of 43.
Energy Action Scotland (EAS) echoes the calls of Cllr Innes as it joined over 140 groups from across Scotland and the UK in demanding support for the poorest in society to be able to get through this winter. It has emerged that average dual fuel energy bills over the next three months are set to become 13% higher for the typical household on dual fuel compared to last winter.
The coalition of groups has also written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and asked him to take action to support vulnerable households with their energy bills in the short term, and to commit to introducing a social tariff to make bills cheaper for those that need it.
Cllr Robert Innes said: “I brought this motion to council as it’s really important that as many voices get behind this as possible. The UK Government are leaving people to freeze this winter. Fuel bills have almost doubled since 2021 and the least this sorry excuse of a UK Government could do at this time is provide this support for people.
“They should do the right thing, but we know that they won’t, they never do. Renfrewshire has suffered through a decade of Tory austerity and is now crippled by their self-made cost of living crisis. People cannot afford these energy bills; they cannot afford food as Brexit and inflation keeps our food prices going through the roof and the reality is that choosing between heating and eating is becoming more and more commonplace. It’s disgraceful, nobody should have to make that choice.
“I echo the calls of Energy Action Scotland and multiple anti-fuel poverty organisations in calling for the Energy Bill Support Scheme to be reinstated as a matter of urgency. It is a disgrace that an energy rich nation like Scotland doesn’t have the power to help those struggling to meet the excessive energy bills.”
He added: “Scotland needs the power of a normal, independent nation to deliver an energy policy that would ensure everyone could maintain a healthy warm home without fear of going into debt.
“The Tories are more interested in the profits of the energy companies than the wellbeing of the people, especially vulnerable households who will suffer most under their disastrous energy policy.”
The motion by Cllr Robert Innes and second by Cllr Bruce MacFarlane read: Renfrewshire Council calls for the UK Government to reintroduce the Energy Bill Support Scheme and provide struggling households in Renfrewshire with a £400 energy bill rebate.
Council notes that peoples energy bills have almost doubled since 2021 and recent hikes in standing charges mean this support is essential for people in Renfrewshire this winter.