Stirling MP Urges UK Ministers to Use Powers
Alyn Smith MP has called on the UK Government to act urgently to address soaring energy and food poverty amidst the continuing cost of living crisis.
Speaking in a Westminster debate on the topic, Mr Smith pointed to the increasingly desperate local situation in Stirling. A 2023 publication from Stirling Citizens Advice Bureau found that:
- There was a 900% increase in the number of clients seeking help with energy debt arrears since 2020
- 93% of respondents had borrowed money from friends/family to survive
- 81% reported falling into debt or further debt
- 64% skipped meals to pay for energy or other essentials
- 83% suffered deteriorating health
Research from the House of Commons Library found that whilst inflation levels in the UK had fallen to 4.0% by December 2023, it remained stubbornly high compared to Germany at 3.8%, Spain at 3.3%, the United States at 2.3% and an overall Eurozone average of 2.9%.
The Bank of England has decided to maintain interest rates at 5.25% in a bid to drive down inflation – despite ongoing fears from businesses and consumers on the impact this will have on overall debt, reduced consumer spending and higher mortgage rates.
Afterwards, Alyn Smith MP said:
‘The UK Government needs to use or lose the powers it currently has over energy in Scotland. Stirling households, and businesses too I might add, are facing astronomical costs compared to just a few years ago. I realise the impact external world events have had on the global economy and energy markets – but it cannot be denied it is ordinary households who are bearing the brunt of this cost of living crisis, whilst energy companies are announcing record profits.
‘Urgent action needs to be taken to ensure people and business are protected, whilst the situation stabilises. For instance, it’s simply wrong that an energy-rich nation like Scotland faces the highest transmission charges in the UK – our renewables future must help to bring down bills.’
The House of Commons Library briefing is here