£20 million referendum funding will support people struggling with their energy bills.
Thousands of vulnerable households will be supported by the continuation of the Scottish Government’s uprated £20 million Fuel Insecurity Fund.
Announced as part of last week’s Scottish Budget 2023-24, the investment will enable third sector partners to continue to provide support to households who are at risk of self-disconnection or self-rationing their energy use. While the Scottish Government remains committed to engaging with the UK Government to deliver a referendum on Scottish Independence, funding that was originally earmarked for a referendum in 2023 will now be used to help tackle fuel poverty.
Last week’s Scottish Budget included additional steps to address inequality while tackling the climate emergency including increased investment of over £366 million next year to support the delivery of the Heat in Buildings Strategy. It forms part of a package of measures introduced by the Scottish Government to protect the most vulnerable households from the impact of the current cost of living crisis.
The decisions taken through the Emergency Budget Review in November enabled the Scottish Government to provide additional immediate support to people most impacted by the cost of living crisis, specifically rising energy prices, by doubling the Fuel Insecurity Fund to £20 million this year. The Scottish Budget is now protecting that investment into 2023-24.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings Patrick Harvie met with people on the frontline of tackling fuel poverty, while visiting the Wise Group in Glasgow, a social enterprise working to lift people out of poverty by providing mentoring support to help with employment and life skills and offering energy advice.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“People across our country are paying a steep price for the economic mismanagement of the UK Government, with the cost of living forcing many to choose between heating their home or eating – the Fuel Insecurity Fund aims to stop that happening.
“The Scottish Government has, and always will, use its currently limited powers to the maximum extent in order to meet the challenges being faced by the people of Scotland right now. Powers relating to energy markets are reserved to the UK Government, so I am renewing my call for further and more urgent action, to support the most vulnerable households.
“With this intervention – as with many others the Scottish Government has set out – we are having to divert funding into policies that aim to minimise the impact on people as a direct result of UK Government policy.
“The full powers of independence would enable us to make different choices and help people facing the devastating consequences of the cost of living crisis.”
Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings and Tenants' Rights Patrick Harvie said:
“Everyone needs a safe, warm and affordable place to call home and yet despite this we know that many people are struggling under the weight of their energy bills and wider cost of living pressures. Last week, the Scottish Budget confirmed £366m for insulating homes and buildings and tackling fuel poverty as part of our £1.8 billion commitment to Heat in Buildings over this Parliament.
“That is essential work to make sure that Scotland has warmer homes which are cheaper to heat for decades ahead. We also need the full range of powers on matters like energy pricing, consumer protection and energy supply to make the biggest possible difference. But right now, the Fuel Insecurity Fund is a lifeline to many people struggling most with fuel poverty which is why we have made the commitment for next year.”
The Scottish Government’s Fuel Insecurity Fund includes provision for households on any tariff type and using any type of fuel.
The Wise Group play a significant role in enabling the success of energy crisis funding across the UK to support the tackling of fuel poverty. By March 2023, the Wise Group will have successfully distributed over £3 million of energy crisis funding directly to households and vulnerable energy customers since March 2020.
It is vital that those worried about, or struggling with, heating their homes access the information and support they need to reduce their energy bills. We have recently provided £1.2 million of extra funding to key agencies, including Advice Direct Scotland, Home Energy Scotland and Citizens Advice Scotland, to help those struggling to pay their bills and heat their homes. Those struggling with their energy bills should also speak to their provider to discuss options that might help mitigate or manage rising bills.
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