Falkirk's Braes residents fighting to survive during freezing cold nights

Campaigners say Scottish Power should be ashamed of the fact residents in the Braes area have been forced to huddle together in one room to stay warm because they cannot afford to heat their homes.

By James Trimble
Friday, 12th February 2021, 11:59 am
Updated Friday, 12th February 2021, 12:03 pm

Falkirk’s Forgotten Villages – Ending Fuel Poverty group received a post from a resident who stated she was having to share her bedroom room with her seven-year-old child because she could not afford to turn her heating on as night time temperatures plummeted to minus 12.

Claire Mackie, co-founder of Falkirk’s Forgotten Villages, said: “We have a serious situation, due to the weather and cost of electricity, families are having to share a room to try and keep warm as they can’t afford to put the heating on.

"That post on our page led to more people coming forward saying the same thing – they are literally fighting to survive. This is what our government is allowing to happen – forcing people into fuel poverty, so they are unable to afford to put their heating on, during the coldest winter in years. Even more so during a pandemic.

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Members of Falkirk's Forgotten Villages - Ending Fuel Poverty campaign gather outside Scottish Power's HQ in Glasgow to protest against high energy bills

“They are allowing energy companies to increase prices. Absolutely disgraceful how these companies can charge and do what they want, to the detriment of the customer.”

Claire said another Scottish Power price hike is due in April and the last one in October saw a 52 per cent increase.

"They promised winter payments to help us, but there have been some residents who have not had a single payment. Fuel poverty is also a pandemic and some people’s quality of life is suffering.”

Scottish Power CEO Andrew Ward responded to the heating concerns, stating the company was doing its bit to help.

He said: “No one should be living without heating, especially in the current temperatures. While these customers wait on their heating systems – which use higher amounts of energy – being replaced by the local council, we’re continuing to do everything we can to support them in managing their fuel costs.

“This includes credits for prepayment customers to help ease the financial burden and we’re currently accelerating the February payment. We also have a fixed price tariff with a lower control/heating unit price for credit meter customers, which could save them up to £600 per year.

"We know not everyone eligible has taken up that tariff and urge those who haven’t switched to get in touch. We’ve also provided energy efficiency advice and installed more than £500,000 worth of energy efficiency and insulation measures in homes in the Falkirk Council area to help bring down energy costs.”

Falkirk’s Forgotten Villages – Ending Fuel Poverty campaign began in November 2019 when residents complained the THERMAflow electric heating system Falkirk Council recommended be installed in their homes was combining with the Scottish Power fuel tariff to create extraordinarily expensive bills – some as high as £150 per week.

Their online petition demanded an investigation into the rising costs and and last year Falkirk Council agreed to begin installing gas central heating in over 700 properties in the Braes area.

Last year the group sported banners which stated “Scottish Power – Creating Poverty”, “Scottish Power – Home of the Ruthless”, “Stop Putting Profit Before Life” and “Reduce Tariffs Now” in a protest outside Scottish Power headquarters in Glasgow.