While British Gas has announced it is to drop prices for gas consumers by 5% from the end of February with other suppliers announcing similar reductions, more than a third of households in Moray remain in fuel poverty.
That was the view being expressed last night by Moray’s MP Angus Robertson, who is calling for reductions that reflect a fall in wholesale gas prices by as much as 29%.
Mr Robertson repeated his call in a recent House of Commons debate on energy pricing in the UK, pressing ministers for better regulation of the energy sector.
He said: “Moray has a higher than average level of fuel poverty, which is the result of a colder climate, especially in our upland rural areas – and of lower than average wages and with the increasing demand on the foodbank it is often a choice for families ‘to heat or to eat’.
“Scotland is an energy rich nation and it is utterly unacceptable that people find themselves in this position.
“While the Scottish Government has put in place a variety of support schemes to help people in fuel poverty those efforts are frequently undermined by the failure of the UK Government to implement major change to energy regulation and the energy market in the UK.
“The 2011-13 Scottish House Conditions Survey shows that 36% of Moray households were in fuel poverty, with around a third of that number in ‘extreme fuel poverty’ – 13% of households.
“These are horrendous figures, yet it would have been 11% if fuel prices had risen in line with inflation between 2002 and 2013, which demonstrates a fundamental failure of the UK regulated energy market.
“The recent falls in wholesale energy costs and oil prices have not been reflected in our energy bills, and if the companies are not prepared to positively react to these changes and pass them on to consumers, then they must be compelled to do so.”
Meanwhile the Moray MP has been confirmed by his local constituency group as the SNP candidate in the UK General Election in May. Also declared so far are Douglas Ross (Conservatives) and Sean Morton (Labour).