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The Scottish Government is to launch a £12.5 million scheme to provide free home insulation and help 200,000 households across the country tackle fuel poverty.

The Universal Home Insulation Scheme will be administered by local authorities. Infrastructure and Capital Investment Secretary Alex Neil commented: ‘With the onset of winter just round the corner, now more than ever we need to offer support and immediate assistance to those most in need to help them heat their homes and stay energy efficient.

‘That is why, through this scheme, we are injecting millions of pounds in our fight to help stamp out fuel poverty. Councils across Scotland who successfully bid for the cash will administer the scheme.’

Trisha McAuley, depute director of Consumer Focus Scotland, added: ‘Consumer Focus Scotland welcomes the announcement of awards to local authorities of funding for the Universal Home Insulation Scheme. The high take-up of insulation measures last year showed how effective the scheme is, both in terms of tackling fuel poverty and also of reducing carbon emissions.’

Labour claims the Scottish Government is set to spend a total of £48 million on tackling fuel poverty in 2011/12, which is actually a decrease from the previous year’s figure of £70.9 million.

Finance spokesperson Richard Baker MSP said: ‘Every penny spent tackling fuel poverty is to be welcomed, but the cold hard truth is that the SNP has slashed the fuel poverty budget by a third.

’Soaring energy prices effect every Scot, but they have a disproportionate impact on those on the lowest incomes. It is our duty to help the poorest and most vulnerable through these tough times and it is deeply disappointing the SNP does not seem to share this view.

‘The fact is if the SNP were serious about tackling fuel poverty then they would not have cut the budget by a third.’

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