MP wants action on energy

ANGUS MP Mike Weir has lambasted what he said is the lack of understanding of the energy market by the London based political parties.

The SNP Westminster energy spokesperson said he believes local consumers are being let down, especially those in rural areas.

Speaking in a debate on energy market reform he claimed that both the Secretary of State and his Labour opponent assumed that the energy market was only those served by the big six energy companies, and had nothing to say to those who were off mains gas.

He explained: “There are many households in Angus and across rural Scotland who do not have mains gas.

“This part of the market is always forgotten, pushed aside and labelled as too difficult by successive governments, yet they have suffered price rises far outstripping even those faced by customers of the big six.”

Mr Weir added that even those who had access to mains energy were being let down by lack of action by successive governments.

He said: “Both Labour and Tory concentrated on switching and competition as the way to tackle rising energy costs, yet there is no evidence that either has had any impact on the energy market.

“Only those who are on an expensive tariff or pre-payment meter are likely to significantly benefit from switching, and they are often the people least likely to do so for a combination of factors.

“They may have existing debt, they have no bank accounts to gain by direct debit payment, and the energy companies make little effort to attract them.

“The idea of greater competition is equally misleading.

“According to the Office of Fair Trading there is plenty of competition in the LPG and home fuel oil market, yet there prices are rising even faster.”

Mr Weir has now called for immediate action rather than “grand plans” that would take years to materialise, and cited his own attempts to move the payment of winter fuel allowance for off grid pensioners.

He argued: “We are entering the winter period. Households need help now to meet rising bills.

“I introduced a private members bill to give help to off grid pensioners, it was not a revolutionary measure and would not have cost anything extra, yet the present UK government was not even prepared to discuss the issue.

“The Tory whips killed the bill without even a debate.”

“As Labour and Tory bicker over abstract plans, households throughout Scotland face a miserable winter of rising costs.”