GIVEN the Prime Minister’s recent call for innovative solutions to the current cost of living crisis, may I put forward for discussion a proposal to reform the pricing structures for domestic gas and electricity that may go some way towards addressing two of the major issues that the country faces, namely fuel poverty amongst those on low incomes and over-consumption of energy by those at the higher end of the nation’s income distribution?

First, the standing charges should be abolished. These are regressive charges that penalise low consumers of power. A household with both gas and electricity is now paying more than £5 per week before consuming any power and so someone struggling financially and trying to consume as little power as possible is paying an excessive rate per kWh for the little energy they use.

Secondly, every household in the UK should be entitled to a modest amount of power, say 1500kWh of electricity and 5000kWh of gas annually that would equate to the consumption of a modest two-bedroom home, at an affordable price set by government. My figures here are educated guesswork, so if they are wildly unrealistic, I apologise.

Thereafter, energy prices should rise progressively in bands, much like income tax. Just for debate, let’s say the next 1500kWh of electricity and 5000kWh of gas would be priced at the actual cost of the power (however that may be calculated), but beyond that, the power companies could set the bands and the tariffs as they saw fit to make an appropriate profit on their domestic energy sales while maintaining their market share.

The loss to the companies from the abandonment of the standing charge should be replaced by an increased unit charge on the higher bands of consumption. I would expect the pricing of bands to rise relatively steeply, thus providing a big incentive for large consumers to take effective means – improved insulation, heat pumps, solar panels and so on – to significantly reduce their fuel consumption.

The scheme should be kept as simple as possible. One issue to be addressed would be electricity-only households where the basic-priced 5000kWh of gas entitlement should be converted into an appropriate additional base price electricity band. Another, households with high consumption due to health issues should receive appropriate help either through the benefit system or the NHS. For instance, a person requiring power-hungry medical equipment in their home could get an additional free or basic-cost energy allowance via a “prescription” that would be passed to their energy company, the company then reclaiming the cost from the appropriate government department. Another would be large families in necessarily large houses with a low total household income – dealing with this situation I suggest is best left with the benefits system.

So, two birds with one stone: affordable energy for low-income households and pressure on everyone, even the highest earners, to reduce their domestic energy consumption and help save the planet.

Des McGhee, Milngavie.


CONGRATULATIONS to Iain Macwhirter for his excellent article ("Buckle up and get ready for Winter of Discontent 2.0", The Herald, May 11). However, he omitted the fact that it is not just Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England, who "may have cancelled IndyRef2" but also the First Minister when, in 2019, she launched her zero carbon initiative that was the forerunner to the SNP policy to implement COP26 targets by 2045.

Just check the figures. Prior to the April increase in the energy price cap consumers obtained 25 per cent of their energy from electricity (around 4,000 units at 16p/unit) and 75 per cent from gas (16,000 units at 4p/unit), resulting in an annual bill of £1,280. However, a ban on fossil fuels would result in consumers spending £6,000 a year (20,000 units of electricity at current cost of 30p/unit). In other words, the policy of the First Minister means going green will mean going poor as the additional costs of COP26 such as the £40,000 bill for a flat owner having to replace their gas boiler, the impact on GDP from a ban on shale gas to Grangemouth and the multi-billion-pound price tag of a green revolution means a major hit to household budgets.

What it indicates is that COP26 and Indyref2 are two intertwined policies, hence politicians cannot debate one topic without including the impact of the second topic. Hopefully your writers will be able to analyse the impact of the updated Growth Report being produced prior to a bill being laid before Holyrood over Indyref2.

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas.


I NOTE with interest your report on Russia's Victory Day celebrations (“Putin: Our offensive in Ukraine is response to western policies”", The Herald, May 10).

According to my reading of history, since the end of the Second World War the United States has deliberately provoked the USSR, rattling its sabre, treating Russia as some kind of pariah. Russia has had to keep its eyes open to make sure the US is not using its power to gather the rest of the world against it.

I am not saying I agree with what Putin has done, but there was not a single diplomatic syllable uttered by the White House, or the British Foreign Secretary or the Prime Minister. The aggressive language from the US and the UK has no place in foreign policy.

Margaret Forbes, Blanefield.


MICHAEL Watson (Letters, May 11) asks whether he is the only person who wishes the Daleks had got Dr Who.

I count myself as living a pretty full life, but in an examination on the subject of Doctor Who, would score zero per cent. Doctor Who?

I have just used search engine Google to find out who is the famous Harry Potter.

A world of great diversity of interests is a wondrous place in which to live.

David Miller, Milngavie.


ARE we really to believe that the Duke of Cambridge ("Duke gives personal tribute at memorial", The Herald, May 11) actually said “For Catherine and I” ? A future King who cannot speak the Queen’s English.

Neil Bowman, Forfar.