East Lothian Courier – 24 March 2023


The Budget was the focus in Westminster last week. As ever aspects were welcome but it’s the totality of it upon which its judged.

Ending higher charges for Pre-Payment Meters is to be welcomed. But why the delay? All that was required was the stroke of a Ministerial pen and yet many have been left to suffer a cruel winter with fuel poverty stalking them.

There was support for new technologies, but nothing announced for Green Hydrogen or Longer Duration Battery Storage. When over 17% of wind turbine capacity is curtailed, not through the wind not blowing but because the national grid cannot cope, action’s needed. Storing that surplus energy and establishing hydrogen plants is the solution which offers huge opportunities for work and business in East Lothian.

Whilst addressing legitimate pension concerns of senior medical consultants was long overdue the fuelling of a cash bonanza for the already super rich was just plain wrong. Worsened by proposals that will be harsh on those not working through ill health or disability. It’s not just migrants that face cruelty from this Government, but our own citizens who are unwell.

What wasn’t announced was more telling. Scotland remains Energy Rich, yet her people fuel poor. There was no action to address unregulated fuel or those living off the gas grid. Whether heating oil in rural parts or expensive all electric systems in high rise blocks an injustice remains. Regulation and the extension of the Alternative Fuel Payment should have been done.

Whilst the super wealthy got tax breaks many on universal credit remain unable to provide basic essentials for them and their families. The need for a guaranteed minimal income which can keep body and soul together is still missing. Leaving many facing penury, hunger and cold.

The Budget’s symptomatic of what’s happening globally. I chaired a meeting for the Trade Justice Movement where it’s clear that the UK must leave the Energy Treaty Charter which allows for corporates and oligarchs to sue Governments for simply taking steps to protect their people and environment. We need a fairer world as well as society.