With fairer weather and reduced bills, the energy crisis has slightly dissipated. But it’s not gone away and will return with a vengeance when winter comes. Prices may be lower than the last few bills, but they’ll still be higher than what was the norm before they rocketed.
The dangers were brought home by some statistics that the campaigning organisation Energy Action Scotland obtained from the Scottish Ambulance Service. They shockingly disclosed that hypothermic temperatures recorded for patients had increased by over 30% last winter. That medical term masks that folk were literally freezing, some may even have died. Some may have had other reasons for an ambulance to be called but all were found to have body temperatures that were dangerously low. That wasn’t through choice but circumstance and it’s disgraceful in any civilised country, and especially so in an energy rich one.
But we need to address the disease not just treat the symptoms. That’s why it’s essential that there’s a social tariff so that the poor and vulnerable can access heat and power. Many European countries have one and the Tory Government has talked about one. But there’s not going to be one this coming winter and I fear that many more hypothermic cases will result.
At the same time the roll out of smart meters is faltering. This technology when not set in pre-payment mode is in fact not only helpful but will be essential. Technology changes are coming next year which make it essential to have one to access off peak and other such tariffs.
Yet whilst they claim its almost 60% across Great Britain, the situation in Scotland is that only 4 out of 32 local authority areas have more than 50%. Moreover, 5 areas have less than 30% and the 3 Island areas are each below 10%. The worst areas also happen to be the areas of highest fuel poverty in the country. East Lothian has only between 40-50% .
The weather will turn and the old technology will be switched off. It’s why a strategy needs implemented to deliver roll out quickly.