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Energy / Lib Dems propose help to pay for rising energy bills

ANNUAL energy prices in Shetland are set to rise by a whopping £1,528 in April to an estimated average of £3,246 per household, the Liberal Democrats have calculated.

The party said the 54 per cent hike in the energy price cap, announced by energy regulator Ofgem last week, will almost double (89 per cent) local household bills.

The party said it had proposed a “cost of living rescue package” worth almost £1,000 to save struggling families in Shetland and in Orkney, where the price hike would lead to average household bills of £2,728.

Average price increase of 89 per cent for electricity and gas.

In addition to the rise in energy bills, the cost of broadband is set to rise by 9.3 per cent with inflation at its highest rate in almost thirty years.

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael said: “Energy bills are going through the roof, even as the cost of living more generally is rising quickly.

“Now is the time for the government to scrap its unreasonable tax hikes and restore and expand support for struggling families.”

The proposed cost of living rescue package would include taking £300 off struggling families’ heating bills by doubling and expanding the Warm Home Discount.

Carmichael said the party would also scrap the planned National Insurance tax increase from 12 per cent to 13.25 per cent in Class 1 contributions which is being introduced by the Conservatives in April.

He said his party, which currently has 13 MPs in the Commons, would ensure low-income families could save up to £975 each a year to help cope with the cost of living crisis.

“We need broad action nationally and we need greater consideration for differentiated measures for areas with high fuel poverty like the isles,” Carmichael said.

“The government has let this slide for too long – now we need a rapid catch up plan, and no half-measures.”

Meanwhile Advice Direct Scotland has launched a £3 million support fund to help Scots struggling with their energy bills amid a growing cost-of-living crisis, to help prevent households falling into fuel poverty.

The Home Heating Support Fund is open until 31 March and applications can be made on behalf of individuals by ‘referral partners’ (such as local authorities, housing associations, charities providing debt/energy advice) through www.homeheatingadvice.scot

Alternatively, individuals can contact Advice Direct Scotland for free on 0808 800 9060 or visit www.advice.scot, and trained advisers can assess their eligibility and refer them if appropriate.