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Our Man in Westminster: Measures must be taken to tackle energy crisis because people are really feeling the effect of the cost of living crisis particularly during the colder months

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MP Drew Hendry.
MP Drew Hendry.

I’d like to start by wishing you all a safe and happy new year.

Sadly, for many families, it may not be a prosperous one. With the colder months upon us and snow on the ground, people feel the effect of the cost of living crisis.

As I have written about many times, energy has long been a subject of concern in the Highlands. We routinely pay more than in other parts of the UK, despite being major players in generating a quarter of the UK’s renewable energy.

It’s an unfair burden on people here and, despite all the years of pleading for change, we continue to be ignored by Westminster.

New statistics show that energy bills could rise by as much as 50 per cent in the spring, compounding the household strain for people, while many other costs are also spiralling – many a result of political choices of Boris Johnson’s government, despite warnings by many organisations and charities. The Resolution Foundation calculates that the decisions taken by the UK government will cost families around £1200 per year.

Money that many families, already suffering, simply can’t find.

My SNP colleagues and I have urged the UK government to deliver a package of support to combat the ongoing energy crisis currently hitting the most vulnerable in our communities and introduce a wide range of measures needed to limit the damage inflicted by the Tory cost-of-living crisis.

These are measures that could be taken now, to help, such as cutting the VAT on energy bills (something Boris Johnson promised to do during the Brexit debates) to provide loans to energy companies and, in turn, help consumers.

We’ve also asked them to rule out a rise to the energy price cap categorically and reintroduce the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift. The Scottish Government has already brought in the £20 per week Scottish child payment and a host of other mitigations on Tory policies but can’t plug all of these gaps.

If the Chancellor is serious about tackling this energy crisis, these are just some of the key measures that must be introduced – rather than sitting back and profiting from the increase in oil and gas revenues.

If he isn’t willing to do so, and the signs are that he isn’t, with families being punished as a result, it simply underlines the pressing need for us to have the powers, here in Scotland, to protect our people.

Related Story – Inverness Courier petition demanding UK government ends higher electricity charges imposed on Highlands households is signed by more than 1500 supporters

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