Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Saturday, 6 September 2008 17:30 UK

Heat on Brown over cost of energy

Gas cooker
Gas and electricity costs have been rising steadily

The prime minister has been accused of letting Scottish households "plunge into fuel poverty" by not acting to address rising energy prices.

It comes after Gordon Brown told business leaders in Glasgow he had decided a one-off cash rebate would only be a gimmick.

First Minister Alex Salmond said the windfall gains of energy giants should be used to help people with bills.

Mr Brown has indicated the focus should be on improving energy efficiency.

Mr Salmond said this showed the prime minister was out of touch with real people.

We can't have a situation of Scotland being a country of fuel poverty amid so much energy plenty
Alex Salmond
First Minister
He said: "Gordon Brown may think that helping people with their fuel bills this winter is a 'short-term gimmick'.

"The reality is that it is a pressing need for households which have been plunged into fuel poverty by soaring energy prices."

Speaking to BBC Scotland, Mr Salmond added: "I'm in favour of the energy efficiency schemes, we'll participate in that - lets have a lot more of them - but let's also have action to contain these rising costs over this coming winter for both families and businesses.

"We can't have a situation of Scotland being a country of fuel poverty amid so much energy plenty."

Energy efficiency

Labour MSP John Park challenged the first minister to "get his own house in order".

He said: "This is vintage Alex Salmond, happy to criticise others while his government is gambling on making Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK."

But Labour MP Jim Sheridan said there was also pressure from inside Labour, from the trades unions and from constituents to do something.

He said: "We cannot ignore the strength of feeling that's out there and it's up to Gordon and the rest of the cabinet to act and act quickly."

A UK Government statement on energy prices is expected next week, but it is thought a windfall tax will not be among the measures announced.

Ministers were hoping to unveil a package of help with fuel bills, including payments of between 50 and 100 per head.

But after energy firms refused to help provide the cash, the focus is now being put on improving energy efficiency, rather than securing immediate savings.

Accusations of "caving in" to the energy companies over cash rebates have been denied.

Fuel poverty is defined as when more than 10% of household income is spent on fuel bills.


RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific