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Councillors to lobby on fuel poverty cash

A COUNCIL delegation will travel to Edinburgh on Tuesday to lobby the Scottish government on funding to combat the extremely high level of fuel poverty in the isles.

The chairman and vice-chair of the social services committee, councillors Cecil Smith and Allison Duncan will meet with the governments’ cabinet secretary for infrastructure and capital investment, Alex Neil. The meeting has been arranged by isles MSP Tavish Scott.

Latest government statistics reveal that more than one third (35 per cent) of all Shetland households were living in fuel poverty, while 13 per cent were even suffering from extreme fuel poverty.

A household in the UK is regarded as in fuel poverty when they need to spend more than 10 per cent of its income on keeping adequately warm. When household have to spend more than 20 per cent on keeping warm they are regarded as living in extreme fuel poverty.

The continuing rise in fuel prices since this time means that these figures are now likely to be higher, Shetland Islands Council said.

Speaking ahead of the meeting in the capital, councillor Smith said: “Levels of fuel poverty in Shetland are on the increase and this will have a negative impact on our communities. 

“We believe our climate, the cost of fuel and our traditional housing make our circumstances unique and national schemes tend to lack flexibility and are often not appropriate to Shetland.  

“We want to ensure that any money we receive will have the greatest impact on achieving energy efficiency, reducing energy bills for households and reducing fuel poverty”.
The two councillors will be accompanied by the council’s executive managers for housing, Anita Jamieson, and environmental health and trading standards, Maggie Dunne, as well as by Shetland’s member for the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP) Emily Shaw.

The SIC said that anyone experiencing difficulties paying their energy bills should contact the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) on 01595 69 4696 or Hjaltland Housing Association’s One-Stop-Shop on 01595 741 368.  

The One-Stop-Shop is able to assist people with energy efficiency advice and provide information on funding available.