A row has broken out over the selection of Scottish Power, one of the big six energy companies, as a sponsor of a national fuel poverty conference opening on Monday in Yorkshire.
The campaign group Fuel Poverty Action said a business that made over £700 million in profit last year “whilst people froze in their homes” should not be sponsoring this kind of event.
Speaking for the group, Clare Welton said: “In order to really tackle fuel poverty, we need to see investment in renewables and have the control of energy in the hands of communities, not money-grabbing energy companies who continue to hike their prices year on year.”
But National Energy Action, organiser of the Harrogate conference, defended its choice of sponsor, saying it was happy to work with any firm which supported its efforts to raise the profile of a serious problem.
“Really, we are critical of the government for not providing the funds from direct taxation rather than relying on energy companies,” said a spokesman for the NEA, which describes itself as the UK’s leading fuel poverty charity.
Scottish Power came under particular fire this summer when its annual report revealed a doubling of annual pre-tax profits to £712m barely months after it had hiked its gas and electricity prices by 7%. The same report also showed that Scottish Power had paid a dividend of £890m to its parent company, Iberdrola, and given a £129,000 bonus to chief corporate officer Keith Anderson, taking his total pay for 2012 to over half a million pounds.
Fuel Poverty Action accused Scottish Power at the time of “making a killing” while Citizens Advice also expressed concern that there were “too many families forced to choose between heating or eating” and urged companies to put customers before shareholders.