Category Archives: Energy

Free Age Scotland Hot Tips Calendars Available

Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South, is helping to spread vital information and advice to older people in Aberdeen South this winter in partnership with Age Scotland, the national older people’s charity.

Dame Anne has been distributing copies of the charities ‘Hot Tips’ Calendar to sheltered housing residents.  As part of the charity’s annual ‘Spread the Warmth’ campaign, the calendar provides information to help older people get prepared for winter.  Each month focusses on a special theme or includes content from a partner charity, with more than 80,000 copies available.

Dame Anne said: “Age Scotland’s ‘Hot Tips’ calendar is an excellent resource for older people and I have been delivering copies to all the sheltered housing complexes in my constituency.

“However, if you don’t live in sheltered housing accommodation, you can pop into my office on Victoria Road to pick up your free copy.

“With winters becoming increasingly severe in Scotland, it’s important that people prepare for what can happen, and Age Scotland’s ‘Hot Tips’ contain everything you need to know.”

Greg McCracken, Age Scotland Policy Officer, said: “Every year, ‘Hot Tips’ includes suggestions on making your home comfortable, safe and warm, as well as the latest information on welfare benefits and hints on keeping fit and healthy.  It’s vital that older people are enabled to continue living independently, but ‘Hot Tips’ is also about improving quality of life by looking at what people can do to get out and about or involved in volunteering.”

Copies of the calendar are free and are available at Dame Anne’s office on 39-41 Victoria Road, Torry, Aberdeen AB11 9LS. They can also be found in your local Age Scotland retail shop, where available, as well as from your local library while stocks last.

MP Supports Big Energy Savings Week

Household energy bills in Scotland have doubled in the last nine years and a third of Scots struggle to afford their gas and electricity bills. Despite this, £20 billion of benefits went unclaimed in 2011 and many people could save up to £200 a year by switching their energy supplier. That’s why this week I will be supporting Big Energy Savings Week; a national campaign to help people cut their fuel bills and get all the financial support they are entitled to.

The campaign is a collaboration between Citizens Advice Scotland, Scottish citizen’s advice bureaux, Citizens Advice (England & Wales), the Energy Savings Trust, Government, energy suppliers and other charitable organisations.

The primary message of Big Energy Saving Week is that consumers can save money and energy if the Check – Switch – Insulate.

Check – contact your energy supplier to check that you are on the best tariff and payment method for your circumstances, or if they can offer you any discounts to cut your bills.

Switch – visit an accredited switching website to see if you could get your energy cheaper elsewhere. Shopping around for your energy supplier could save you as much as £200 if you have never switched before. If you use heating oil as your main fuel, see if there are any local buying clubs you can join. If not, start your own.

Insulate – If you’re worried about how much money you’re spending to heat and light your home, or just want to spend less, there are some simple steps you can take to make your home more energy efficient. Keep in the heat by insulating the cavity walls and the loft of your home – you could save up to £320 per year. Most suppliers are giving away free or discounted insulation and other energy efficiency measures so ask if you’re eligible.

If you want more information about the campaign, you can watch a video about Big Energy Savings Week here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA7OFZCr45c&feature=youtu.be

Let’s Tackle Low Pay and Deal with the Cost of Living Crisis

Hard-working families in Aberdeen South are struggling as they face the greatest cost of living crisis in a generation.

Wages have gone up slower than prices for 39 out of 40 of the months David Cameron has been Prime Minister and many hard-working families struggle to make ends meet. Average wages are over £1,500 lower than they were when the Tories came into power in 2010 and year after year people are working harder, for longer, for less.

Thousands of hard-working people in Aberdeen South get up early to go to work, do the right thing and yet struggle to pay their bills. It can’t be right that we’ve now reached the point where more of the people bringing up families in poverty are in work than out of work.

We need to make sure work always pays which is why Ed Miliband has this week announced plans to introduce Make Work Pay contracts that will help businesses raise wages for millions of low-paid workers, and help the next Labour government cut social security bills for the taxpayer.

Firms that sign up to paying their employees the living wage, currently £8.80 in London and £7.65 elsewhere, in the first year of the next Parliament will be offered a 12 month tax rebate of up to £1,000 for each individual worker that receives a pay rise.

The money would be fully funded from increased income tax and National Insurance revenues. Additional savings in lower tax credits and benefit payments, as well as increased tax revenues in future years, will cut social security bills and help pay down the deficit.

Make Work Pay contracts will benefit employees, businesses and the British taxpayer. Low-paid workers will be paid more, firms will receive a tax rebate and will benefit from higher staff morale, increased productivity and lower turnover of staff, and the taxpayer will see a reduced social security bill from lower spending on tax credits and benefits for people in low paid work.

Thousands of families in Aberdeen South are struggling to deal with the rising cost of living and encouraging more firms to pay their employees the living wage is a positive way of really helping people deal with the cost of living crisis.

Join me and Call on David Cameron to Freeze That Bill

We all know that times are tough. Monthly bills are going up and people are working harder to make ends meet. That amounts to a cost of living crisis for people in Aberdeen South – and across the country.

The weather has been great this summer. But as the nights draw in and winter approaches I know people will be getting worried about how cold it will be and the choices they will have to make to pay their energy bills. Frankly I don’t think that is right. People shouldn’t have to make the choice between putting food on the table and turning on the heating.

But since David Cameron has been in Downing Street prices have risen faster than wages in 38 out of 39 months and energy bills have gone up by almost £300. When the price of energy increases energy companies pass this on but when it drops consumers don’t see their bills fall.

The problem is David Cameron can’t deal with the cost of living crisis because he stands up for a privileged few, not for ordinary families. David Cameron has cut tax for people on over £150,000 a year while raising it for everyone else.

So I’m delighted that Ed Miliband told Labour Party Conference that Labour will freeze prices until the start of 2017 if Labour wins the next election. And he says we will break up the big energy companies so that we can all get a fair deal.

This will save a typical household £120 and an average business £1,800.

But people round here need help now. So I’m calling on David Cameron to freeze our bills now. And I’m asking local people to sign a petition today so that the voices of Aberdeen South are heard loud and clear in Downing Street. You can sign the petition at http://action.labour.org.uk/page/s/david-cameron-freezethatbill or tweet a picture of your bill with the hashtag #freezethatbill.

If you live in Aberdeen South and you would like to discuss your concerns about the rising cost of living with me, please do not hesitate to contact my office on (01224) 252704.

Dame Anne Urges Government Rethink

MP for Aberdeen South, Dame Anne Begg is calling for a review of funding criteria to prevent Aberdeen losing out on £6.5 million. Despite successfully bidding for funding from the Urban Broadband Fund 2 (UBF2), Aberdeen City and Shire could potentially lose out due to a lack of agreement over funding criteria.

Dame Anne has, therefore, written to the Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, Secretary of State at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport asking her to alter the criteria to allow both local authorities to access the £6.5 million and deliver a world class fibre optic broadband infrastructure for the region.

Dame Anne said: “Aberdeen is a dynamic and vibrant city, a world leader in innovative technology, and the UK powerhouse for oil and gas production. Yet, potential development is being threatened by poor broadband speed.

“As a strong supporter of the bid for UBF2 funding, I was thrilled when we were successful following the immense amount of hard work and effort that went into our campaign. I continue to receive a number of phone calls from constituents still complaining of poor broadband speeds and I am both disappointed and frustrated by the slow progress in developing super fast broadband for everyone in the region. Not only are big companies being held back by limited broadband speeds, SMEs, which are vital components of the oil and gas supply chain are also suffering.

“I am therefore calling on the government to alter the funding criteria to ensure that Aberdeen City and Shire have the opportunity to really benefit from this money.”

Aberdeen City and Shire Councils are proposing a joint venture which would see a fibre based broadband infrastructure built across the North East boosting the local economy and providing a long term income stream for both authorities. However, a lack of agreement between DCMS and the European Commission indicates that the joint digital strategy proposed by the two local authorities is unlikely to meet the current criteria.

Dame Anne stated: “It appears that any funds released would have to be spent on either demand stimulation or vouchers for SMEs, neither of which is required in this area as Aberdeen City and Shire have the highest and second highest rates of broadband uptake in the UK. However, it is clear that what is required here in the North East is a world class fibre based infrastructure in order for us to fully realise our potential.”

The UBF2, also known as the Super Connected Cities Fund, was announced by the UK government in early 2012. In December 2012, Aberdeen was announced as one of twelve cities across the UK to be awarded a share of £50 million in order to provide homes and businesses with fibre optic broadband and high speed wireless Internet access.

Dame Anne supports FairFuel UK’s call for cut in fuel duty

Aberdeen South MP Dame Anne Begg joined Quentin Willson and his FairFuelUK team in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon 4th March to add her voice to the call for a better deal on petrol & diesel taxation in the forthcoming Budget.

Quentin Willson and Dame Anne Begg MP
Quentin Willson and Dame Anne Begg MP

Dame Anne said, ‘I have been contacted by a number of my constituents who support FairFuelUK’s campaign and I know how seriously rising fuel and energy prices are affecting households in Aberdeen South, particularly in the current economic climate. Indeed, the Government’s decision to increase VAT to 20% has added around 3p per litre to the price of fuel.

‘I agree that the market should act in the interests of motorists, small businesses and local communities and I know that many people remain concerned that the price we pay at the pump remains high.’

Quentin Willson said, ‘We were delighted to meet with Dame Anne at our Westminster Lobby. Families and businesses are struggling under the dead weight of paying 80p per litre in combined VAT and Fuel Duty. This is hurting families, damaging businesses and holding back growth. Our research shows that high fuel costs are the nation’s Number 1 financial priority. The Chancellor needs to be bold and cut fuel duty in his Budget. A significant cut in Fuel Duty will give the economy the kick start it needs. Much of the perceived loss in revenue will be made up by the tax take from the resultant economic growth. With sterling’s recent fall and rising oil prices the approaching spectre of diesel at £1.60 litre is a nightmare this country simply can’t face.’

FairFuelUK has commissioned research from two nationally respected Think Tanks that clearly shows that a cut in Fuel Duty will boost growth. Here are those two reports and where to read them…

NIESR Report: www.fairfueluk.com/niesr_report.html
CEBR Report: www.fairfueluk.com/cebr.html

Money to be invested in Aberdeen to improve broadband access

Dame Anne has welcomed the announcement in the Chancellor’s Autumn statement that Aberdeen will be one of the cities to benefit from a scheme investing £50 million to improve broadband access.

She said: “Despite Aberdeen being an economic powerhouse of the UK, some areas in the city still suffer from very poor broadband connections.

“Therefore, I welcome today’s announcement that money is to be invested to improve broadband access. This recognises the importance of Aberdeen to the wider UK economy.”

Have your say on energy prices

Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South, is pleased to support ‘Parliament Talks… Energy‘, a free public event at the Banchory West Church, Banchory, Aberdeenshire on Thursday 24th May, 6-8pm.

Dame Anne, who is Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, said: “For those with an interest in energy issues, this is an excellent opportunity to come along and to discuss how Parliament contributes to the debate on energy issues and scrutinises Government policy. It also forms part of the important work carried out by Select Committees.”

The House of Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change is running an inquiry into Consumer Engagement with the Energy Market and want to hear people’s views on energy prices, the future of the UK energy industry and other energy issues.

‘Parliament Talks…Energy’  is the latest of a new series of subject-specific events held around the UK, organised by the Houses of Parliament Outreach Service, highlighting Parliament’s role in scrutinising public policy and holding the Government to account.

The event includes:

  • a short talk from Sir Robert Smith MP, member of the Energy and Climate Change Committee;
  • discussion groups where the audience will be given the opportunity to share their views on energy prices and the future of the UK energy industry;
  • a question and answer session where the audience can ask about both energy issues and the work of Parliament.

Find out more about the event at: www.parliament.uk/talks-energy  

To register to attend email: parliamentaryoutreach@parliament.uk or call 020 7219 1650.

Big Energy Week

Rising fuel bills are stretching household finances and people are looking for ways to save money on their energy bills. However, help is at hand through Big Energy Week which is being run this week by Citizens Advice and is being supported by Dame Anne Begg MP

During Big Energy Week you can get practical advice on cutting your fuel bills and help to see if you are getting all of the financial support you are entitled to.  You can pick up a leaflet with tips and advice on cutting your fuel bills at your local Citizens Advice Bureau or you can visit their new website at www.bigenergyweek.org.uk.

Citizens Advice, Chief Executive, Gillian Guy said: “We know hikes in prices have put extra pressure on people’s budgets at a time when money is already tight. Day in day out our Bureaux is helping people who can’t afford their fuel bills.

“We’re worried that some people are struggling unnecessarily because they’re not on the best deal; live in homes that haemorrhage heat or are not getting all of the financial help available to them.”

Dame Anne said: “Fuel bills are a big worry for many people at the moment.  I am pleased to support Big Energy Week and hope it will make a big difference to my constituents by saving them money on their bills.”