East Lothian Courier – 30 November 2023


The Autumn statement was the main focus in Parliament last week. Whilst as ever there were things to welcome what was absent was action on the energy crisis. No support’s forthcoming this year, nor are the poorest and most vulnerable being afforded some protection with a social tariff. There’s been talk but still no action.

Fuel bills it’s reckoned will be on average £800 more than when the crisis began. They’ll also be higher than last year as though costs have slightly dropped there’s no blanket £400 support this winter. Many are already significantly in debt and struggling to put the heating and let’s not forget power on. It’s also about being able to run the washing machine or charge the phone, never mind those sick needing additional heat or equipment operated.

It’s why I raised the issue of standing charges last week. They’re a poll tax on energy. It’s the same for the poorest using least, as it is for the wealthiest with their swimming pools and other luxuries. Indeed, it disproportionately hits the worst off who pay a greater percentage of their bill in standing charges. Those on pre-payment meters know that to their cost.

What’s worse than even that is that the rate varies around Britain which is divided into regions. In Scotland there’s northern and southern, really the Highlands and Lowlands. We’re further north and have a colder climate. Yet both Scottish areas face higher standing charges than English regions and significantly more than London. It applies whatever the method of payment, be it direct debit, standard credit or pre-payment meter.

The daily rates for pre-payment for example are 69p in South Scotland, 66p in North Scotland and yet 46p in London. On an annual basis that equates to £251.64 in South Scotland, £241.84 in North Scotland, yet £166.13 in London.

In 2020, the equivalent of 97.4% of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption came from renewables. It’ll be even greater now. East Lothian sees the turbines turning on onshore and rising offshore. It’s perverse that Scotland which produces the energy sees it’s folk struggling to power their homes.