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SNP and Liberal Democrats highlight the plight of 1.25 million Scots living in fuel poverty

By Scott Maclennan

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Freezing condition are a daily occurrence in the Highlands like this scene in Aviemore.
Freezing condition are a daily occurrence in the Highlands like this scene in Aviemore.

Fuel Poverty Awareness Day has the SNP and Liberal Democrats demand the UK government vastly ups its game as new figures from National Energy Action (NEA) show that 1.2 million Scottish households are living in fuel poverty.

The SNP says the NEA numbers show 34 per cent – around 850,000 of households – in Scotland are currently living in fuel poverty while 23 per cent – or over half a million are living in extreme fuel poverty.

These figures come almost exactly a month after it was revealed that the three constituencies facing the highest average increase in energy bills are in the north of Scotland.

They include Ross, Skye and Lochaber in third place; Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross in sixth place while Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey is in 59th position in the UK.

The SNP’s energy spokesperson, Dave Doogan MP said: "Scotland is an energy rich country with natural resources in abundance. It is, therefore, horrifying that 850,000 Scottish households are living in fuel poverty.

"This is the consequence of decades of failed energy policy from Westminster governments we haven’t voted for. For too long the UK Treasury has raked in the profits that Scotland's natural resources have generated, while seeing nothing in return.

“We saw it again with the recent autumn statement – the Westminster government failed to use the profits to give families in Scotland a £400 energy rebate. If Westminster won’t act, it must devolve energy and welfare powers to Scotland so we can.”

MP Jamie Stone who represents Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross said it was important to remember the fundamentals: "We must remind ourselves of the very basic facts of living in this part of the world.

"Those living in rural households are more likely to spend over £100 per month on fuel for their cars than households in the rest of Scotland - an unavoidable cost when living in such a remote area with very poor public transport connections.

"Rural areas on the whole have less energy efficient housing than the rest of Scotland. And in remote places like the Highlands, 33 per cent of households are in extreme fuel poverty, compared to 12 per cent in accessible rural areas, and 11 per cent in the rest of Scotland.

"These facts have been true since before the cost of living crisis, and they will continue to be true long after if the government does not get its act together.

"It does not make sense to me that, in a place which suffers from such extreme weather, we do not have adequate provision for it. It does not make sense to me that, in a place which generates so much renewable energy, we do not benefit from it.

"It is high time the Government took a close look at the situation in the Highlands and enacted serious action."

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