During Challenge Poverty Week 2022, we are using our blog and social media to give a platform to members of the Commission’s Experts by Experience Panel who will be sharing their personal views and insights into poverty throughout the week.
The Commission’s principles commit us to amplifying the voices of experts by experience. Contributions from individuals reflect their personal perspectives and opinions are not necessarily the views of our Experts by Experience Panel or the Commission as a whole.
This blog was written for Day 4 of Challenge Poverty Week 2022 by Experts by Experience Panel member, Hussein. The theme for the day is ‘Energy and the Environment’. #TurnTheTide
The fourth day of Challenge Poverty Week, Thursday 6 October, focusses on energy and the environment. But despite increasingly grim sentiments on the matter there is still much that can be done to help both people and the planet this winter.
Let’s talk about it
It’s now as common a topic as the Scottish weather. Ask many people nowadays and they’ll readily agree the spiralling cost of energy, and our ability to afford it going forward, weighs heavily on our collective minds. That’s on top of the worldwide concern over global warming that has defined the national agenda over recent years.
Our increasing appetite for energy is nothing new; from computers to cars, heating to hospitality. It’s where it comes from, and the cost of getting it from the ground to where we use it that affects our monthly bills. That majorly changed last February following the war in Ukraine and the increasing energy costs which have been passed on to household customers in the form of significantly higher bills.
From the top down
More help is needed before the fuel poverty crisis worsens further. Energy prices might continue to rise, with more shocks forecast in the new year. Government must offer greater financial and practical support to more people now, including those who can’t easily access this for themselves, such as the elderly or disabled.
Organisations also need more resources to cope with rising customer demand, including staff for home visits, assessments, improvements and training. Clear, accessible and relevant information from governments, councils, educators and organisations must be provided, bearing in mind that digital access is not universal and that many will value the comfort and reassurance of actually speaking to another person at this time.
Some help is at hand
Some sources of financial help are available and not all require you to receive benefits or be on a low income. The government will pay most energy customers’ suppliers £400 per customer to offset their bills spread over the next few months. People receiving some low income benefits will receive two cost of living top-ups, with an additional payment to those on some disability benefits.
Many local councils have announced support to help with the cost of installing energy-saving solutions, such as draft proofing and radiator reflector panels, although eligibility criteria and ways of applying vary by area. Lastly, a number of local and national organisations offer advice, including on financial grants, to help people improve their home’s energy efficiency, form good energy-saving habits and thus lower bills.
Scottish Government has launched a website that outlines much of the support that is and will be available: Cost of living crisis – Cost of Living Support Scotland (campaign.gov.scot)
Of course, aside from using less energy, there are things that some of us can do to help reduce those bills. The wholesale cost of energy has risen over time, and although there is a maximum price companies can charge per unit of energy, this price cap increased by roughly 25% on 01 October.
There are practical ways we can save energy right away though. Throwing on some extra layers and turning down the heating by just 1.C, not overfilling the kettle or washing machine, heating only the rooms we need or using a hot water bottle or low power electric blanket can all help. Switching off TVs and chargers rather than leaving them on standby will also save a few pounds over the year, and ‘smart plugs’ which operate on a schedule can do this automatically if you struggle to access those hard to reach sockets. Every little helps.
We all must play your part right now. Regardless of status or affordability, the energy crisis will affect each and every one of us indiscriminately in the years to come. Whatever the extent, we must act collectively to become more efficient, reduce our energy usage and expenditure, support each other and help both people and our planet, before it’s too late.