An issue which is of particular interest in the North-east is the cost of energy and the fuel poverty which exists in our region resulting from such high costs.
The most recent figures on fuel poverty show that there were 100,000 more houses living in fuel poverty and 27,000 more living in extreme fuel poverty across Scotland in 2013 than there were in 2012.
However, there was no regional breakdown provided at this time which makes it difficult for both the Scottish Government and local agencies to bring forward the appropriate measures to tackle fuel poverty in our part of Scotland.
What we do know is that our climate here in the North-east makes it even more difficult to tackle fuel poverty in the region and can be particularly concerning for our elderly population. That is why it is so important that this information is provided so that we know just how challenging a situation we face in the North-east.
I have written to Ministers to ask for this to be provided as soon as possible given its significance.
It means that there will be people in the North-east suffering from fuel poverty this Christmas and, given the national rise, in all likelihood a greater number than last year.
These figures mean that there will be too many low income families and older people having to make the choice between heating and eating this winter.
The rises in households living in fuel poverty show that the Scottish Government is even further off meeting its target of eradicating fuel poverty by 2016. As a member of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee I have heard evidence from organisations set up to tackle fuel poverty that the current levels of funding are inadequate to reach this target and that this was true of both the Scottish Government and the energy companies.
The Scottish Government has said that it would stick by its target of eradicating fuel poverty by 2016 but it is clear from the figures published today that they are on course to miss it badly.
It is time that Ministers stop paying lip service to a target they are clearly not doing enough to meet and start taking more practical steps to ensure that we have fewer people, not more, living in fuel poverty.