Fuel Poverty in Scotland

Immediate Release

Fuel poverty in Scotland has increased dramatically in the past few years. 900,000 households in Scotland are suffering from fuel poverty. This is a national scandal. In Stirling alone, there are at least 10,000 households in fuel poverty. We know with the recent inflation busting increases of the energy companies that the number is even higher.

Despite all the rhetoric from the SNP, the number of households in fuel poverty has actually gone up since 2007. Despite the increase in fuel poverty, the Scottish Government has failed to spend the money it has to combat this growing scourge.

Dr Richard Simpson MSP has called for the SNP to turn their words into action. Scottish Labour held a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the 23rd of April to discuss the growing crisis.

Dr Richard Simpson MSP said:

“Many of us will have received our fuel bills for the winter months. I am shocked at the plight of many of my constituents who are struggling to pay the costs of keeping their home warm in winter. For well over a million Scots, their fuel bills are so high, they are now classed as being in fuel poverty.

“It’s really important for the Scottish Government to act. The SNP talk a lot about how things might be better after independence, but households need help now. I find it outrageous that the SNP have failed to spend the money they have on helping to insulate homes and helping to reduce fuel bills.

“What is even worse is that the SNP are refusing to back our calls for an energy price freeze. Alex Salmond has met with the ‘Big 6’ energy companies eight times since 2010. Not once has he ever asked them to freeze their prices. Not once has the SNP’s Energy Minister asked them to cut their bills.

“So rather than speaking up for our poorest, Alex Salmond would instead back the big energy companies. As thousands more Scots slip into fuel poverty because of his government’s incompetence, Alex Salmond takes the side of big business.

“Fuel poverty is a disgrace. Scottish Labour backs an energy price freeze and a reform of the energy market to break up the ‘Big 6’ energy companies. Why won’t the SNP?”

 

ENDS

 

Andy Murray, Freedom of Stirling

Motion S4M-09801: Richard Simpson, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 23/04/2014
Andy Murray, Freedom of Stirling

That the Parliament congratulates Andy Murray on being awarded the freedom of Stirling at a ceremony held at a special meeting of Stirling Council in Dunblane High School; notes that Andy is only the third person to be given what it considers this prestigious recognition and believes that it reflects the great pride that the city holds for its sporting son; understands that he has won 28 tournaments, including the US Open and Olympic tennis titles in 2012, making him the first man to win both of these competitions in the same calendar year, and the Wimbledon championship in 2013; notes that Andy will also be given an honorary doctorate by the University of Stirling in recognition of his services to tennis; wishes him the best of luck in attempting to add to his impressive sporting achievements, and thanks Andy for all that he has done in promoting the sport of tennis.

Dr Richard Simpson MSP welcomes the launch of Labour’s five pledges to Scotland’s women.

Dr Richard Simpson MSP welcomes the launch of Scottish Labour’ Manifesto for women across Scotland. The pledge aimed at improving gender inequalities in Scotland will be put in place by future UK and Scottish Labour Governments.

Margaret Curran MP, Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary announced the launch of the pledges last week with a series of events in towns and cities across Scotland to win over undecided female voters.

Labour’s pledge to increase free childcare, better pay for low-paid women, ending discrimination for new mums at work, encourage companies to publish pay gap and introduction of 50:50 quotas on public boards in Scotland will improve women’s standard of living, not only in Mid Scotland and Fife but for women across the country.

Commenting on the launch, Dr Richard Simpson MSP said:

“During my lifetime, women’s rights have been won because of, and not in spite of, being part of the UK. From equal pay legislation to tax credits and maternity pay, Labour has always delivered for women by pooling and sharing our resources. And no Government has dared to turn the clock back on these rights.”

“The SNP’s commitment to equal representation has failed and I am confident that women across Scotland are looking for more than Salmond’s empty promises.”

“I know that the best future for Scottish women is inside the United Kingdom, where we can pool our resources and share the risk across 65 million people, and not just 5. Being part of the UK means we can make these pledges today that will make a real difference to women across Scotland. Together we can deliver for women.”

The five pledges are:

1. More free childcare for working mums

Scottish Labour will introduce 25 hours of childcare a week for every 3 and 4 year old and 15 hours a week for all vulnerable 2 year olds. This will be funded by using the Barnett Consequentials arising from a future UK Labour Government increasing the bank levy.

2. Better pay for low-paid women

One in five Scottish workers are paid less than the living wage of £7.65 per hour. Labour across the UK will introduce ‘make work pay’ contracts to incentivise companies to pay the living wage. Firms which sign up to pay the Living Wage at the start of the Parliament will benefit from a 12-month tax rebate of up to £1,000 for every low paid worker who gets a pay rise. The measure will be entirely funded from the increases tax and national insurance revenue received by the Treasury when employees receive higher wages.

3. End discrimination against new mums at work

An estimated 5,000 women a year in Scotland who go on maternity leave never return to work due to discrimination. Across the UK, this accounts for around 14% of women who go on maternity leave. In order to end this discrimination against new mums, Labour would change the law so that employers would have to make reasonable adjustments for women returning to work. We would also use new devolved powers to scrap the tribunal charges that deny justice to so many women.

4. Tell companies to publish their pay gap

There is still a 5.8% gap in pay between men and women working full time in Scotland. Progress has been made, but is has not been quick enough. We believe that the full public scrutiny of pay is required to make companies address this issue. That is why we will tell companies to publish their pay gap. And, if voluntary action does not work, we will legislate to compel companies to publish they pay gap in their annual reports.

5. 50:50 on public boards in Scotland

The SNP have failed to address the lack of women on the board of Scottish public authorities. Scottish health boards have an average of 37% women members, while many non-departmental public bodies have as few as 30% women board members. Visit Scotland’s six-member board only has one woman. Scottish Labour would introduce a 50% quota for public boards in Scotland to ensure that the boards that lead our public authorities look like the communities they serve.

 

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. Scottish Labour will be hosting events for undecided female voters in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, Aberdeen and Dundee during May and June.

2. Scottish Labour’s pledge card is attached.