Concern over award of fuel poverty contract to Scottish Gas
Consumer Affairs Correspondent
Politicians and campaigners expressed dismay yesterday after a contract to carry out the Scottish Executive’s fuel poverty programme was awarded to Scottish Gas – a firm whose bills have soared 22 per cent since March.
The deal, which involves the installation of thousands of energy-efficient boilers and heating systems to pensioners, had previously been contracted to Eaga Group.
The Executive spent almost £57 million last year on central heating systems and £6 million on insulation measures to tackle fuel poverty among the over-60s.
Christine Grahame, SNP social justice spokeswoman, said: ‘Many pensioners will be shocked the Executive has awarded this contract to Scottish Gas when they have increased bills by 22 per cent since March this year.
‘I believe there could be a conflict of interest in awarding this contract and for ministers to award such a contract beggars belief.’
Although energy experts were cautious about criticising the deal, insiders said the Executive’s choice of contractor was ‘astonishing’.
One said: ‘This means Scotland’s most expensive energy supplier will be responsible for going into the homes of pensioners and giving advice about reducing their bills.
‘I can only assume the Executive was hamstrung by the tendering process. The existing contractor is a social enterprise. To give it to a multinational doesn’t say much about a commitment to reducing poverty.’
Executive’s commitment to social entreprise questioned over procurement loss (21.08.06): http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=5128.
Eaga frozen out of warm deal (07.08.06): http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=5029