Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has reiterated calls for action as new figures show 63% of households in Orkney are fuel poor.
The latest Scottish Housing Statistics survey reveals a widening gap between urban areas and remote northern and island areas, where levels increased between 2013 and 2014.
In Orkney, 30% of households are in extreme fuel poverty – meaning they require more than 20% of their income to pay for fuel.
According to the statistics Orkney has the highest percentage of homes in fuel poverty and extreme fuel poverty than anywhere else in Scotland.
Commenting Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur said:
“In 2016, the year fuel poverty is due to be eradicated in Scotland, no-one should have to make the choice between eating and heating because they cannot afford both. All too often, unfortunately, we know that is not the case.
“These figures show major regional differences and a widening gap between urban areas and more rural areas like Orkney. Indeed, the brutal reality is that Orkney now has more homes in fuel poverty and in extreme poverty than anywhere else in Scotland.
“Scottish Government Ministers refuse to acknowledge that they are set to miss their target it, which only hinders our collective ability to tackle fuel poverty. We need Ministers to agree to revise their strategy and set out a coherent plan with as much flexibility as possible for each area to tailor measures appropriately.
“In Orkney, the partnership approach of THAW has real potential to work. It has the ability to plug the gaps between various national initiatives, allowing THAW to provide more help to more people in our islands. Given the scale of the challenge highlighted by these latest figures, this is an approach that deserves support and backing in a revised fuel poverty strategy”.
Mr McArthur lodged the following written Parliamentary Question last week, previous to the publication of the percentage of fuel poor households broken down by local authority area:
Question S4W-29497: Liam McArthur, Orkney Islands, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 26/01/2016
To ask the Scottish Government when the next Scottish House Condition Survey will publish the percentage of fuel poor households broken down by local authority area.
The fuel poverty tables broken down by local authority and comparing statistics between 2013 and 2014 are below, further breakdowns by household type are available here.
Official statistics previously showed “no real change” in the overall level of fuel poverty across Scotland between 2013 and 2014, with 34.9% of all households in fuel poverty (much lower than the increasing rates for Orkney as shown below).
Local Authority Fuel poverty 2011-13 (% of households) - 58%
Local Authority Fuel poverty 2012-14 (% of households) - 63%
Extreme fuel poverty 2011-13 (% of households) - 28%
Extreme fuel poverty 2012-14 (% of households) - 30%
At the Scottish Liberal Democrat Spring Conference at the end of February, members will discuss the introduction of catch-up zones, which would provide targeted support for remote areas struggling to address fuel poverty (including Orkney). The relevant part of the motion states:
Conference calls for the Scottish Parliament elected in May 2016 to take steps to tackle climate change by:
1. Using its new powers, to address fuel poverty and support warmer homes, including by introducing new catch-up zones in remote areas where more flexibility is required in the delivery of effective support for hard to heat homes.