UK summit urged to help struggling utilities customers during coronavirus crisis

The SNP has called for a summit to be held between the UK Government, opposition parties and utilities providers to help those struggling to pay during the coronavirus outbreak.

Ian Blackford, the party’s leader at Westminster, has proposed various measures aimed at protecting consumers.

The outbreak should not lead to people being unable to afford utility bills or being able to contact family and friends, he said.

General Election 2019
Ian Blackford said no-one should be left struggling to heat their home (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Mr Blackford has called for an immediate freeze on prices as well as a six month “reprieve” on utilities being cut off if bills are not paid.

The SNP MP has also urged the UK Government to bring forward plans for a emergency grant to support those struggling to pay for household bills due to a lack of earnings.

He said: “This is a deeply worrying time for us all – but absolutely no-one should be left struggling to heat their home or keep in touch with their families during this unprecedented emergency.

“Household bills and utility usage are going up at the same time that millions of people are seeing a reduction or complete loss of their income.

“Many are concerned they will be unable to pay – and worried they will be cut off or left with unmanageable debts.”

He added: “The SNP is calling on the UK Government to ensure a package of measures to help struggling households – including a new emergency coronavirus energy grant to help pay the bills, a freeze on prices and a six-month reprieve on utilities being cut off to prevent anyone losing access during this crisis.

“The UK Government must get round the table with opposition parties, energy and telecoms providers so people can get the help they need and no-one is left behind.”

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