Energy rich Scotland facing fuel poverty “scandal”


Housing minister addresses Energy Action Scotland conference  

6th November 2014 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Fuel poverty is a “scandal” and should not exist in an energy-rich country like Scotland, a conference has heard.   

Minister for housing and welfare, Margaret Burgess, told the Energy Action Scotland annual conference in Aviemore that the Scottish Government was committed to ending fuel poverty and was working to combat the problem, especially in rural areas.

“It is a scandal that there should be any fuel poverty in a country as energy-rich as Scotland, with over 27% of households affected,” she said.

“The government is aware that customers in rural and remote areas face some of the highest energy prices in the country, and we are doing all we can with the powers we currently have to address this.

“We are providing £79 million funding this year for our home energy efficiency programmes to help people manage their fuel bills better and give them warmer homes."

As part of this, some of the most remote areas are receiving over £5 million more in funding than they did last year, Burgess said.  

It is a scandal that there should be any fuel poverty in a country as energy-rich as Scotland

The conference entitled ‘Bringing the Fuel Poor in from the Cold’ had a particular focus on rural fuel poverty and heard lower income families in these areas suffered disproportionately.

Energy Action Scotland director, Norman Kerr, said it was apparent that people living in  remote and rural areas had fuel costs significantly higher than more populated areas.

“Rural homes are often off the mains gas grid and so are dependent on other forms of fuel and can be hard-to-treat when it comes to fitting insulation,” he explained.

“Rural fuel poverty is a problem that needs much more effort to solve.

“Too many people across the country live today in fuel poverty. It is essential that everyone who faces living in a cold home and who can’t afford their fuel bills can get much-needed assistance wherever they live.”

Other topics for discussion at the conference included the roll-out of smart meters, who pays for grant and support programmes, and alternative energy models.