A SCOTS MP has secured heavyweight backing for his call for better protection for rural families who are forced to rely on deliveries of oil or gas for heating.
Angus SNP MP Mike Weir persuaded the Commons Enterprise and Business Committee, of which he is a leading member, to urge the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets to give them the same support as those able to receive mains gas supplies.
The move would benefit large numbers across the north and north-east who are unable to connect to mains supplies and have to rely on expensive home oil deliveries.
The committee said they should be covered by the same regulations as those on mains gas and should be able to access a mandatory minimum social tariff for those facing fuel poverty.
The committee also called for urgent reform of the energy market overall as millions face price increases.
Its report predicts that domestic gas and electricity bills “will rise significantly in the near future, over and above the increases already announced this year”.
It concluded the UK Government needs to have a “fundamental rethink” of its fuel poverty policy, with rising prices inevitably leaving more households struggling to pay their bills.
Mr Weir gave a warm welcome to the report and said the proposals for action on the “off grid” supply industry were particularly important for rural Scotland.
He added: “For far too long these consumers have been ignored as the government concentrated on the big six energy companies, yet prices of such fuels have outstripped even the massive rises imposed on mains gas and electricity consumers.
“I would urge the government to end this anomaly and to urgently accept this recommendation.”
The committee said it had found no evidence of collusion between the “big six” energy companies – British Gas, E.On, Scottish Power, Scottish & Southern, EDF, and npower.
But it said there were “real problems” with the market.