Community / Don’t be afraid to reach out for cost of living help, MSP says

THERE is a feeling that some people in Shetland who need help with the cost of living are not reaching out for support, an MSP has said following a visit to the isles.

Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant said she wanted to encourage anyone struggling to ask for help.

Meanwhile she also called on greater efforts from governments to better insulate homes.

It comes after it was announced this morning (Friday) that the UK energy price cap will rise by 80 per cent in October in response to wholesale cost increases.

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant. Photo: Shetland News

During a visit to Shetland this week the Labour MSP visited the likes of the local food bank and Citizens Advice Bureau.

Grant said the foodbank for instance was speaking of greater pressure on its service.

“In fact if anything there was concern that people who maybe needed help were not reaching out,” she added.


“So it’s really to encourage folk to reach out. There’s a lot of folk in that situation and the sooner they get help, and there will be help available, the sooner they do that the easier it is for them.”

She said it was perhaps not knowing what support is out there, and also in some situations people do not want to ask for help.

With plans for a ban on fossil fuel heating systems being installed in homes in Scotland from 2024, Grant also said there needs to be more support for insulating houses.

She said heat pumps – which generally absorb heat from outside to warm up homes and are seen by some as the way forward – do not work that great in draughty houses.

“So rather than saying you have to have a heat pump which is not going to generate you a moment’s warmth, they should be saying we’re going to insulate your house,” Grant said.

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“People who can’t afford to change their central heating system certainly can’t afford to insulate their homes.”

The MSP also noted that people are saying it is hard to get certified contractors for energy efficiency works.

This is in part why the waiting list for the council-run energy efficiency scheme in Shetland has been so lengthy.

“I’ve written to the Scottish Government before this about getting a way of getting small contractors in rural areas certified,” Grant said.

Another factor on the MSP’s mind when it comes to the cost of living is the price of transport. “If you’re on an island, everything you from a shop has to come in on that ferry,” she said.

Meanwhile Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has praised an initiative in Orkney where a church will open every day from the beginning of October for people who may want to save on heating bills.


Folk will be welcome at the St Margaret’s Church in South Ronaldsay to socialise, knit, study or take some time to themselves – even for the whole day – while switching off the heating at home to save money.

“Right now people are desperate to know that someone is on their side and will help them through the winter months,” Carmichael said. “Seeing a church congregation step up to do what they can will offer a little bit of hope to a lot of people.”

More information on help available can be found via the local Citizens Advice Bureau.

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