Budget 2023: SNP claims rising energy bills show Scotland 'paying price for Westminster failure'

The SNP has claimed Scotland’s rising energy bills are the price for “Westminster failure”, amid the fallout from this week’s Spring Budget.

Stephen Flynn, the party’s Westminster leader, pointed to Scotland’s rich energy supply and accused the UK Government of leaving hundreds of families worse off.

His comments follow the Budget announced on Wednesday by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, where ministers extended support for energy bills at existing levels for a further three months, but axed the £400 winter fuel payment.

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Typical household energy bills in Britain had been due to rise to £3,000 a year from next month, but instead will be kept at £2,500 until July.

But the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts show typical household energy bills are expected to remain in excess of £2,000 until at least winter 2024/2025 – and possibly beyond.

The SNP argues this means Scottish families will be paying more than double what they paid in 2021, when the energy price cap was £1,138.

Mr Flynn said: "Scotland is a wealthy, energy-rich country, but families are paying an unacceptable price for Westminster failure, with sky-high energy bills set to last for years under Westminster control.

"The SNP has urged the Chancellor to save households £1,400 by slashing energy bills, but instead the Tory Government has chosen to scrap the £400 energy rebate and keep bills at extortionate levels, leaving families hundreds of pounds worse off.

"Even more shockingly, Jeremy Hunt had the full support of the Labour Party, which has become little more than a pale imitation of the Tories under [Labour leader] Keir Starmer.

"It's not too late for the UK government to U-turn, and slash bills. At a time when energy companies are making record profits, and the wholesale price of gas is falling, it's inexcusable that Westminster is forcing Scottish families to pay through the nose.

"People in Scotland shouldn't be footing the bill for Westminster's mistakes. The energy crisis shows exactly why Scotland needs the full powers of independence to deliver energy security, properly invest in renewables and reduce bills permanently."

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At the same time, the OBR warned the UK faces the biggest fall in living standards since records began, with real household disposable income (RHDI) expected to fall by 6 per cent between 2022/23 and 2023/24, and families expected to be worse off by 2027/28 than they were in in 2019.

Polling following the Budget found opinion divided, but more people concerned than reassured. Just 13 per cent of people told pollster Ipsos they felt more reassured about their personal finances after Wednesday’s announcement, with 12 per cent saying the same about the state of Britain’s public services.

The poll of 1,000 British adults also found 22 per cent saying the Budget left them more reassured about the state of Britain’s economy.

But 35 per cent said it had made them more concerned about the economy and public services while 37 per cent said they were more concerned about their own finances.

A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson said: “As the independent regulator Ofgem has confirmed, it is untrue that average bills in Scotland will reach £3,500. The comments are pure scaremongering for billpayers who are receiving unprecedented support from the UK Government.

“As announced in the Spring Budget, the energy price guarantee will remain at £2,500 until the end of June 2023, including in Scotland. This means the Government is covering around half of the typical household’s energy bills. The exact saving to the consumer will depend on how much energy they use.”



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