Dear Mr Henry,
Thank you for your email. It is deeply concerning to hear your experiences of disproportionate energy charges.
Unfortunately, your experience is similar to the reports I have received from many other constituents. This issue has been a feature of my casework since I was elected just over a year ago.
It was perhaps as a consequence of all the Covid -19 uncertainty, and people being at home more than usual, that brought the issue into sharp focus as during the summer I noticed a steady increase in the number of constituents raising concerns about their electricity bills.
Cases and concerns that have been raised with me have been dealt with on an individual basis. However, as you will have seen from my recent comments, this pattern of pricing needs to be addressed in a broader manner that doesn’t rely on individual people challenging their bills themselves.
On that basis, I have been working to build a robust evidence base that will help with that challenge. As you say, it must be made clear that there are people behind the case numbers. I am grateful for your email which will help show that.
On the wider issue of fuel poverty, you may be interested to know that my colleague Liam McArthur, MSP for Orkney, who leads for the Scottish Liberal Democrats on energy, has been working hard to ensure that the Scottish Government up their game in addressing the issue in remote and rural communities.
For example, last year, we were successful in securing amendments to the Fuel Poverty Bill that mean that the way that the ‘calculation’ for assessing people in fuel poverty is altered for those in island communities, to take account of the higher costs of living.
We have also been asking the Scottish Government to bring forward targeted funding for island communities, as we consistently report higher rates of fuel poverty. The Scottish Government has delayed the development of their Fuel Poverty Strategy, and it is essential that targeted funding for communities like Shetland is not delayed as a result.
I hope this has been helpful to you, but if there is anything further I can do to assist you please do not hesitate to get in touch.