Household Energy Debt

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall am 11:00 am ar 23 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Alba, East Lothian 11:00, 23 Ebrill 2024

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered levels of household energy debt.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir George. It may seem strange to be debating energy debt with summer fast approaching. However, although the weather has largely improved, the energy debt situation most certainly has not. Millions have not bright sunshine, but black clouds hanging over them. Growing numbers in Scotland and across the UK are struggling, and many are drowning, as debts mount but energy needs remain constant. Ofgem has found that energy debt levels now stand at a staggering £3.1 billion—billion, not million—and that the average debt has increased by about 50% over the last 12 months, with the number of households in debt increasing by about 20%.

The situation is worsening. National Energy Action, a fuel poverty charity, estimates that even with new price cap levels, about 6 million households in the UK will be in fuel poverty. The situation in Scotland, with its more northerly latitude and harsher climate, is even more bleak. Energy Action Scotland suggests, based on the Scottish Government’s house condition survey, that fuel poverty afflicted 31% of households in 2022. That is almost one third of people in an energy-rich land that powers the UK economy living in fuel poverty—and that was two years ago. In northern areas and the islands, the figure was almost, or even over, 50%. Those are the parts closest to the oil and gas fields, yet they are denied access to affordable fuel.

The new bounty of renewable energy adds to the perversity. Scotland is providing 124 billion kWh to be cabled south. That is enough to power Scotland’s homes 12 and a half times over, yet many Scots cannot afford to heat their own home. What an absurdity for a country to be energy rich, yet its people fuel poor.