"Millions Drowning in Energy Debt" as MacAskill Calls for Debt Write Off in Westminster Debate

With Ofgem estimating debt energy levels of £3.1 billion Alba Depute Leader Kenny MacAskill MP today (Tuesday) demanded, in a Westminster Hall Debate that he led on Levels of household energy debt, that the UK Government introduce a debt write-off scheme as millions of people across the UK are now “drowning in energy debt”.

In the debate which has been welcomed by Energy Action Scotland, National Energy Action, Age Scotland and Citizens Advice Scotland Mr MacAskill called on the UK Government to bring forward a package of measures to address the spiralling levels of household energy debt including a social tariff for the poorest and most vulnerable customers, a halt to the forced installation of pre-payment meters and a wholescale review and overhaul of the Warm Home Discount scheme which Mr MacAskill labelled “inadequate” with the current level of £150 denied to many who are entitled and in need.

Opening the debate on Levels of household energy debt Mr MacAskill said:

“As suggested by National Energy Action there requires to be a debt write-off scheme. The amount owed and the numbers in debt are such that full repayment can never be made by many. The only way that much can be reduced is for support through matching payments being made. The details of the scheme can be discussed but the principle should be non-negotiable. It needn’t be a blank cheque for others simply to cease paying. It can be time-limited to debt incurred during this fuel crisis or other criteria.

“Banks were bailed out, PPE wastage if not fraud has been written off, and there seems unlimited funds for weapons of war but not a war on poverty. If assistance can be given to the few, then similar support should be provided for the many.

In summary, energy debt levels are rising and with winter looming fears for access to warmth and power, as well as simply keeping body and soul together are increasing. These are basic human needs and should be human rights. Action needs taken to ease the cost of energy and reduce the burden of debt for the poorest and most vulnerable.

“Will the Minister meet with me and representatives of National Energy Action to discuss this crisis? Even more importantly will she address the perversity of Fuel Poverty in an energy-rich land?”

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