by Colin Fox
News that a charity has just opened a ‘fuel bank’ in Castlemilk offering free powercards for gas and electricity to those unable to afford their heating and lighting bills will surprise no-one familiar with the hardships facing working class communities throughout the country. Average wages have fallen by 10% in real terms since 2007 whilst energy bills have doubled during the same period.
The Trussell Trust in tandem with National Energy Action and Durham Christian Partnership has been operating 4 ‘fuel banks’ in London, Gloucestershire, Merseyside and Durham since 2015. Financed by a £2.25m grant from npower it offers families £30 worth of pre-paid energy vouchers in summer and £49 per fortnight in winter. It has however been overwhelmed by demand and has just opened a further ten ‘fuel banks’ including the one in Glasgow.
Whilst such charitable work is laudable it cannot of course even begin to deal with the scale of the problem facing families across Britain. The Scottish Government estimate that one in four families here are now unable to pay their gas and electricity bills. So the ‘fuel banks’ are unfortunately likely to be busy.
And it is beyond regrettable that the SNP Government, elected in 2007 on a promise to eradicate fuel poverty by 2015, has effectively ditched this famous pledge.
The Scottish Socialist Party is committed to ending fuel poverty in this country. And at the centre of that commitment is our promise to return the energy companies back to public ownership. Only then can we guarantee that the energy needs of all Scots will be met and put ahead of the profits of a greedy few.