Meeting on bills

Sturgeon convenes energy suppliers summit

Nicola Sturgeon: ‘unsettling time’ (pic: Terry Murden)

Nicola Sturgeon will convene a summit with energy suppliers ahead of an expected announcement of the new price cap.

The meeting will bring together industry leaders with consumer and poverty organisations and will look at ways to ease pressure on household bills.

Energy regulator Ofgem will announce a rise in the energy cap on 26 August, allowing energy companies to raise bills. There is no price cap for businesses.

The summit was agreed at last week’s meeting of the Resilience Committee which also committed to reviewing the budget.

The Scottish Government said the meeting with energy suppliers will focus on ensuring the best advice is available to customers and businesses, and the First Minister said it could also include a “more compassionate approach to debt management”.

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ScottishPower, Ovo Energy, Centrica, Octopus Energy and E.on are among the companies expected to attend.

“I know that this is an incredibly unsettling time for households and energy consumers across Scotland and the Scottish Government will continue to do everything we can to support those affected,” the First Minister said.

“There is a not a single solution to this problem and government, industry and the third sector in Scotland needs to work collaboratively together to ensure the right support is in place for householders and businesses during this challenging winter.

“This could include improving the availability of help and advice and considering a more compassionate approach to debt management.”

But Ms Sturgeon said that levers required to adequately tackle the problem, such as the control of VAT, borrowing and energy regulation, lay with the UK Government.

“Only the UK Government can access and make available resources on the scale required,” she said. “They need to take action, now.”

Peter Kelly, the director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “Households up and down Scotland are terrified of what the colder months will bring and the likelihood is that – without further action – lives and life chances will be at risk. The situation could scarcely be more urgent.

“But it is a situation we can do something about, by taking action to protect people most at risk of poverty and deeper hardship. It is that much-needed and urgent action that we are hoping the summit can bring about.”

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