Friday 24 May 2024
 10.8°C   NNE Gentle Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

News / Report: two thirds of elderly are ‘fuel poor’

Dr Sarah Skerratt is calling for new measures to combat fuel poverty in remote and rural areas.

MORE THAN two thirds of Shetlanders over the age of 60 are living in fuel poverty, according to a stark new report issued by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Shetland’s figure of 69 per cent is far above the 45 per cent average in urban areas and considerably higher than the 59 per cent in all rural local authorities – though it is slightly lower than in Orkney and the Western Isles, where three in every four pensioners are deemed to be fuel poor.

The findings are contained within the SRUC’s report ‘Rural Scotland in Focus 2014’, published on Monday.

Its authors are calling for investment in anti-poverty policies and measuring tools which cater more effectively towards the needs of those in more remote rural areas.

They suggest the rural poor are falling into the gaps between national and rural policies designed to address poverty, and feel national measures of poverty are inadequate for use in areas with low population and dispersed settlements.

Report editor Dr Sarah Skerratt said: “The cost of household heating is just one area of poverty in which there is an imbalance between rural and urban Scotland.

“Poverty and disadvantage in rural areas often remain hidden because national policies and measuring tools do not cater sufficiently for the needs of rural areas, while rural strategies do not consistently highlight poverty or how to address it.”

Dr Skerratt added that finding measures to tackle poverty were vital and the cost of such changes would be “less than the ongoing cost of people in rural Scotland continuing to live in poverty”.

Tackling fuel poverty amongst older generations will be especially acute in Shetland, the report suggests, as the proportion of people of pensionable age is forecast to increase by 47.5 per cent in the next 20 years. That is significantly higher than the 34.5 per cent increase forecast in Orkney.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


Meanwhile Labour’s Highlands and Islands list MSP Rhoda Grant has expressed concern at the findings of research by The Children’s Society estimating more than 300 children in Shetland and Orkney are living in houses which are too cold.

Grant urged low income families to find out if they are eligible for the warm home discount scheme which provides a £135 rebate on energy bills.

She said: “I am very concerned that parents face the choice of feeding their families with a decent meal and keeping the heating on.

“[The scheme] will make a real difference to families in poverty who are struggling hard to pay energy bills.”

SIC convener Malcolm Bell pointed to figures from a survey of fuel bills carried out by Lerwick’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

Published in December, it found that 40 per cent of all island households were in fuel poverty, whereby their energy needs account for 10 per cent or more of their budget.

Of those around 13 per cent are estimated to be in “extreme” fuel poverty, where energy accounts for 15 per cent or more of the household budget. 

Shetland households spend an average of £169 a week on fuel, more than treble the UK average of £53 a week.

“Of course we are concerned about anyone facing such a serious challenge, and our staff and services work hard to do what they can to support those members of the community most at risk,” Bell said.

“I’d encourage anyone in difficulty to contact Shetland CAB, but any initiative which seeks to address this is of course most welcome.”

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.