Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has called on the Scottish Government to prioritise investment in areas that have the highest level of fuel poverty, and the highest level of need.
Speaking in Portfolio Questions today, Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said: “The Minister will be aware that the proportion of households living in fuel poverty and in extreme poverty is highest in my Orkney constituency. The Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force’s report this week talked about “rural proofing” the approach to tackling fuel poverty. What reassurances can the Minister give my constituents that the government will use its investment to prioritise those areas that have the highest level of need?”
In response, the Housing Minister Kevin Stewart MSP said “The Scottish Government wants to ensure resources are targeted at those most in need.” The Minister further confirmed he would be visiting Orkney in the near future, where he would also look to address Orkney’s particular challenge.
The exchange in Holyrood coincides with the publication this week of two reports on tackling fuel poverty from “The Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force” and the “The Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group.”
Following the exchange, Mr McArthur said:
“This week the Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force published a set of solid recommendations that, if acted upon, could make a real difference for families and individuals in Orkney struggling to meet the costs of heating their homes.
“With the highest levels of fuel poverty in Scotland, it is clear that priority must now be given to investing in measures in Orkney to address this problem. I welcome confirmation from the Housing Minister therefore that he intends to visit our islands in the near future to see for himself the acute nature of the challenges we face.
“Mr Stewart will find plenty of examples of the innovative work done in Orkney to tackle fuel poverty. This is often more costly, however, and the Minister must recognise that this is one of the reasons additional support is urgently needed. It should also reinforce the fact that a more tailored approach is needing, reflecting the specific circumstances that apply in our community”.
“The message will no doubt be reflective of what I asked him today, and that is the need for prioritised investment in those areas, such as Orkney, where need is at its most.”