SNP MSP Christina McKelvie is calling on energy firms to follow Scottish Power’s example and to set up a scheme that allows customers who are referred to foodbanks to gain fuel assistance, ahead of leading a debate in Parliament on Tuesday evening.
Scottish Power’s scheme offers Quick Credit Vouchers for domestic energy use, meaning that those who rely on foodbanks are also able to gain support to heat their homes through the pilot project being run at Hamilton District Foodbank and other sites across Scotland.
The trial has given out 164 vouchers since it was launched – helping to tackle fuel poverty in deprived communities. Christina McKelvie is now calling on the other large energy firms – including E.ON, British Gas, EDF and SSE – to launch similar schemes in order to bolster efforts to fight fuel poverty, with npower also providing a similar service through its Fuel Bank.
Nearly 1.2 million people were forced to rely on foodbanks across the UK in 2016-17 – up by 2792% since the Tories came to power – with Tory welfare cuts being the single biggest reason for people being referred to foodbanks.
Christina McKelvie said: “It is sickening that so many people across the UK are being forced to rely on foodbanks because of callous Tory welfare cuts. People should not be left without food, heating and electricity because of cruel Tory policies – yet this remains all too common.”
She continued: “This pilot project has been a lifeline for my constituents and has huge potential across the country – making sure those in the most deprived communities have been able to heat their homes this winter. The fact that 80 vouchers have been given out across my constituency alone since the trial started shows how important this scheme is.
“Following the pilot project, I wrote to the other ‘Big Six’ energy companies to see what more support they could offer, particularly as the winter months were beginning to set in.
“I have since had several positive meetings and I will continue to work with these energy firms to help extend the QCV support to more of my constituents, and people across the country, who need extra help with paying their energy bills.
“Scottish Power’s scheme has been a real success in my constituency and in other parts of the country where it is being piloted – and it’s time for other energy firms to follow their lead and help support vulnerable and deprived customers.”