The Switch Together Campaign
14 November 2012
The Labour Party has joined forces with a commercial partner, iChoosr , to purchase electricity in bulk for people who sign up at a cheaper rate than they are likely to achieve working on their own.
Energy bills are now one of the largest costs facing families but only 20% of people are currently on the cheapest deal – with the rest paying £4 billion a year more than they should.
Ultimately, the most direct way that energy bills will be driven down for everyone is by a root-and-branch reform of the energy market .
That is why Labour has drawn up detailed policies for the next Labour government to break the grip of the Big Six energy companies, simplify tariffs and ensure that vulnerable people are offered the lowest rate available.
Although Labour is not yet in government, it wants to help families tackle the rising cost of living right now.
So many confusing tariffs on the market can make switching from one supplier to another difficult which is why many people have given up trying.
Ofgem have estimated that 60 per cent of consumers have never tried to switch supplier.
For several months Labour has been working on a SwitchTogether scheme with its partner, iChoosr.
If lots of people sign up to SwitchTogether, iChoosr will be able to negotiate a better deal with the energy companies than people would be able to get on their own.
This is different from websites where comparisons between energy costs can be made to discover the cheapest rate because this collective approach is about getting lots of people coming together to switch at once.
There is no obligation to accept the price determined at auction.
Nevertheless, everyone who signs up will be offered the deal after the auction.
People can indicate their interest now at www.switchtogether.org.uk
Rhoda Grant attacks SNP hypocrisy over RET
Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has dismissed SNP claims that RET (Road Equivalent Tariff) in the Westerns Isles could come under threat from Labour following recent speeches by Scottish Labour Party leader, Johann Lamont.
She responded saying,
“It is important to be absolutely clear about what Johann did and did not say last week as there has been deliberate misrepresentation of what Johann has said by the SNP who are refusing to engage meaningfully in this debate.
“What Johann argued was that we need an honest debate about current spending commitments and priorities.
“What she did not say was that any specific universal benefit will be cut.
“On RET, the SNP group are displaying incredible hypocrisy.
“It was the SNP Government earlier this year that removed the Road Equivalent Tariff from commercial vehicles in the Western Isles which has affected every household in the islands as hauliers have been forced to pass on the transport costs to customers.
“Scottish Labour joined campaigners in the Western Isles to highlight to the SNP Government that islanders already pay well above the odds for fuel and food.
“The SNP are desperately trying to cover their own inadequacies
“I really wish they had spoken with the same clarity when their government was removing RET from commercial vehicles a move that has damaged the fragile Islands economy.
“This is political hypocrisy at its worst.
“Scottish Labour wants to put fairness first and will listen to all of Scotland as we set spending priorities.”
Ed Miliband's Labour Party conference speech
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Johann Lamont, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, addresses the annual Labour conference 2012
Margaret Curran , Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, addresses the Labour Party annual conference 2012
SNP slash hospital bed numbers
8 October 2012
Highlands & Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, is calling on the Scottish Government to get a grip over dwindling hospital bed numbers in the Western Isles.
New figures show that 1,000 beds have been cuts in hospitals across Scotland since the SNP came in to power in 2007.
In the Western Isles bed numbers are at an all time low with 55 fewer beds in 2012 than five years ago.
This follows a number of SNP health cuts, signed off by the former health secretary, Nicola Sturgeon.
Since coming to power the SNP have axed 2,500 nurses and midwives, A&E waiting
times are going up and complaints are at a record high.
Rhoda Grant MSP said:
Scotland's 16 Health Boards have cut acute care beds and more beds have been
identified for closure this year, along with more cuts to nurses and doctors.
“Despite pledges to protect the NHS budget, the reality of the SNP's choices in government is that patient care continues to suffer as the NHS buckles under the pressure of trying to do more with fewer resources.
“Patients are suffering under NHS Western Isles not through the fault of doctors and nurses, but because of government cut backs.”
Scottish Labour's Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jackie Baillie MSP, said:
“Despite the fantasy-world speeches given by the SNP, the reality on the ground is of the NHS cutting right across the country.
“If you cut beds, then it needs to be because you are treating people more effectively and changing the way in which you treat them.
“But given the longer waits in A&E, the operations cancelled, delayed
discharges, multiple bed moves and the record number of complaints - this isn't
a planned reduction: it's chaos.
“It's time for the SNP to be honest about the choices they've made, which sees fewer beds and nurses in our hospitals and we will have see even more closures this year.
“Something has got to give - the SNP either need to invest more money into health, or be honest about what we can no longer expect from our over-stretched NHS.”