To mark Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has called for forthcoming legislation to be properly ‘island proofed’.
Orkney continues to have highest levels of fuel poverty and extreme fuel poverty anywhere in the country. Mr McArthur made his call ahead of parliament’s consideration of the Fuel Poverty Bill next week.
In the past, Mr McArthur has labelled fuel poverty a “national embarrassment” and has made clear his intention to ensure the bill provides a basis for effectively tackling the problem, particularly in rural and island communities. This is an approach supported by a range of experts who have given evidence on the bill to the Local Government Committee over recent months.
Speaking on the day, Mr McArthur said:
“While fuel poverty is not simply an island issue, all the evidence shows that it affects island communities disproportionately. Unfortunately, Orkney continues to suffer from the highest levels of fuel poverty anywhere in the country. All the more reason therefore that the government should recognise the need to ‘island proof’ their approach to tackling the problem.
“Ministers have already accepted that there is a rural dimension to fuel poverty which requires a tailored approach to be taken. Fuel poverty now exists at twice the rate in rural areas, reinforcing the case for including a rural Minimum Income Standard in the fuel poverty bill and ensuring resources are targeted to where they are most needed.
“At the same time, we need to recognise that fuel poverty blights communities across the country. Raising awareness of that fact is key to ensuring the collective effort needed to eradicate it. It is important, though, that Scottish Ministers also recognise the need show more ambition. Their current proposals for eradicating fuel poverty fall short of what is needed.”