Ready for Winter?

With colder weather beginning to set in, government at all levels is setting out its plans to help people cope with winter conditions.

At a national level, the Scottish Government is once again running its Winter Weather campaign through the Ready Scotland Website.  The site provides a range of information and tips to help you prepare for winter weather in the home, on the move, in your community and at work.

At a council level, the following links will take you to the relevant webpages to find out how your area is preparing for winter:

Over recent years, severe weather has caused travel chaos, disrupted services like school openings and bin collections, caused damage to homes and left many people vulnerable in their homes.

In light of the recent price increases from some of the big 6 energy companies, the prospect of large winter fuel bills will loom large for many households. This is particularly the case for the estimated 93,000 households in the Lothians that are already in fuel poverty.

That is why I support the announcement by Ed Miliband that a Labour Government would freeze energy prices for two years while taking steps to increase competition and transparency in the energy market with a new tough energy watchdog. An excellent article by Tom Greatrex MP, Labour’s Shadow Energy Minister, provides more detail of this proposal.

I am disappointed that the SNP have refused to back this approach. Rather than tackle the big energy companies, the SNP have proposed transferring some costs from bills to general taxation. This however is a sleight of hand.

At present, the UK energy market allows us to share  the cost of green energy growth.  Scotland has huge potential for renewable energy and more than a third of Britain’s green energy subsidy is spend in Scotland while we pay around one-tenth of that total investment. Independence could see that investment choked off and could also leave the burden of grid infrastructure placed on Scottish bills.

What is clear is that we need urgent action to tackle the problems in the energy market to tackle fuel poverty.