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Pandemic-level response needed to address energy bills crisis and avoid ‘catastrophic loss of life’

A PANDEMIC-LEVEL response is needed to address the energy bills crisis and avoid a “catastrophic loss to life,” according to a Holyrood committee report published today.

The Scottish and Westminster governments have been urged to provide immediate emergency support to help those struggling with rising fuel costs, the net zero, energy and transport committee report says.

While efforts to help with the cost-of-living crisis have been recognised by the committee, additional financial help for households, better energy education and acceleration of programmes to retrofit and insulate homes will help vulnerable people through the crisis, the report adds.

Committee convener Dean Lockhart said that urgent action, like that taken during the pandemic, was needed to prevent “death” or “serious ill health” for the worst-off Scots.

He said: “This is a crisis unfolding in real time and one which we are told threatens a catastrophic loss of life if swift action is not taken.”

Mr Lockhart called for more to be done immediately and in a more targeted way to get help to those most in need.

“Over the medium to long term, it is also clear that we need to escape dependence on volatile international energy markets and accelerate all our efforts to enable this,” he said.

“For now, our message is clear, the Scottish government must demonstrate a targeted emergency response to this crisis, on a par with action taken during the pandemic, to ensure the least well-off are not vulnerable to death or serious ill health due to rising energy costs and associated cost-of-living expenses.”

A Scottish government spokesman said that ministers would “carefully consider the findings of the committee” and “continue to support consumers facing the significant increases in energy costs expected in coming months” with the powers available to them.

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