Holyrood debate over fuel cuts

Eastwood MSP Ken Macintosh.
Eastwood MSP Ken Macintosh.

The debate about responsibility for cuts to fuel poverty allowance reached East Renfrewshire last week.

Labour MSP, Ken Macintosh has said the SNP are in denial about their plans.

He added that with the number of people living in cold damp accommodation on the increase — estimated at 33% in East Renfrewshire —it “beggars belief” that they would cut the spending on fuel poverty.

Last month SNP Finance Minister John Swinney published his draft budget, which included a reduction in the amount of money spent on fuel poverty.

Independent experts at the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice) have confirmed that the final fuel poverty budget for 2015/16 was £119 million — and expected to fall by £15 million next year.

Scottish Labour’s Communities Spokesman Ken Macintosh said that his party would introduce a Warm Homes Act to tackle fuel poverty.

He added: “To find out the SNP has decided to cut the fuel poverty budget simply beggars belief”.

However,Stewart Maxwell MSP denied the claim, stating the shortfall was because of cuts from Westminster.

He said: “The budget figures used by Ken Macintosh are incorrect.

“The £15 million he refers to is not due to a cut by the Scottish Government, it is due to a cut by the UK Government which has reduced support for energy efficiency by cutting the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund.

“Despite Westminster’s budget cuts, the Scottish Government has maintained Scotland’s fuel poverty budget for 2016/17 at over £100m.”

“The SNP has allocated over half a billion pounds since 2009 on a raft of Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency programmes to help the most vulnerable in our society heat their homes affordably.”