Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, is calling on the Scottish Government to provide greater support to address heightened risks of fuel poverty during the winter months given that more people are now being expected to stay home.
Mr McArthur’s calls come following a recent written parliamentary answer he received from the Housing Minister, Kevin Stewart which confirmed that the publication of the Fuel Poverty Strategy has been delayed until 2021 due to the pandemic.
In response, Orkney’s MSP has written to Mr Stewart to highlight that instances of fuel poverty are likely to be even more common in rural and island communities this winter since people are being asked to stay home for greater periods of time. He has therefore also urged the Minister to put additional support in place that will allow people to heat their homes properly.
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
“We already know that fuel poverty is a major problem for those living in remote areas during the colder months. Last year, 57% of households in Orkney were living in fuel poverty, which is unacceptably high.
“This widespread problem risks becoming even more severe this year as more people are expected to stay home to prevent transmission of Covid-19. There is already a serious concern around people’s health and wellbeing this winter without compounding to these challenges with the stress and pressure that fuel poverty can bring, not to mention the health implications.
“While the delay to the strategy is perhaps not unexpected given the focus on tackling the pandemic, that doesn’t mean measures can’t be put in place in the short term to support households through what will be a difficult winter on so many levels.
“Ministers must therefore set out what additional support is being made available and how this is being targeted at households in rural and island communities most in need.”