Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has once again pressed the Scottish Government to take proper account of the needs of rural and island areas in its Fuel Poverty Bill.
During an evidence session in the parliament’s Local Government Committee today, Mr McArthur reminded the Housing Minister, Kevin Stewart, of the overwhelming evidence and support for the Bill to include a remote rural Minimum Income Standard as part of the proposed new definition of fuel poverty.
Mr McArthur reiterated concerns from a range of independent experts and organisations that the Bill’s current failure to account of different levels of disposable income in different parts of the country risked undermining efforts to tackle fuel poverty, which is highest in rural and island areas.
Commenting following the exchange, Mr McArthur said
“If the Minister is serious about wanting to tackle fuel poverty in rural and island areas, he has to listen to the overwhelming evidence in support of including a remote rural Minimum Income Standard in this Bill.
“As things stand, Mr Stewart’s bill will redefine fuel poverty in such a way as to artificially underestimate the scale of the problem in rural and island communities. That would be outrageous and, as the Committee has heard, fundamentally undermine efforts to target support where it is most needed.
“Orkney has the highest proportion of households in fuel poverty and extreme fuel poverty at present. Unless the Minister agrees to think again ahead of Stage 2 consideration of this bill, that situation is unlikely to change.”
Notes tO editors: the video from the Committee will be made available here. Mr McArthur contributed from 10:46.