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UK government must do more to tackle rising energy prices, says Highland campaigner amid fears more households will be driven into fuel poverty

By Val Sweeney

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Di Alexander says more action is needed to tackle rising energy prices.
Di Alexander says more action is needed to tackle rising energy prices.

The UK government must do more to tackle rising energy prices to avoid catastrophe, according to a Highland campaigner.

In a stark warning, Di Alexander, chairman of the Highlands and Islands Association’s Affordable Warmth Group, said the majority of households in the region could be driven into fuel poverty later this year when electricity prices are set to rise even higher.

“With the latest dramatic rises in energy prices, the fuel poverty situation in the Highlands and Islands has gone from serious to dire and, what’s more, is going to get even worse come the autumn when the next round of the price cap rises are announced,” he said.

He made his comments after the Inverness Courier petition calling on the UK government to end higher electricity charges in the Highlands and Islands was recently handed into Downing Street by Inverness MP Drew Hendry.

It was launched as part of our End The Chill campaign to highlight the deepening crisis of fuel poverty in the Highlands – one of Scotland’s worst-affected regions.

Although the region generates more renewable electricity than it needs, consumers in the north of Scotland are charged the highest unit price in the UK because of outdated calculations.

Mr Alexander said: “Electricity now costs a minimum of 28p a unit whereas as little as a year ago you could still find a supplier at around 13p a unit.

“In October the new price cap is likely to go closer to 40p a unit, driving the majority of Highland households into fuel poverty and cold homes.

“It’s truly shocking and the Westminster government will need to do much much more before then to avoid catastrophe.”

Currently, 33 per cent of all Highland households live in fuel poverty but Energy Action Scotland recently predicted rising energy prices could push this to 47 per cent while in the Western Isles it is predicted to rise to 57 per cent.

More than 60 per cent of homes in the Highlands do not have access to mains gas – which is cheaper – and have to rely on electricity for heating.

Scottish environmental charity Changeworks has issued an appeal for people who do not use mains gas or electricity to heat their homes – those using bottled gas or solid fuels, or those connected to heat networks – to take part in a focus group to share their experiences of fuel debt.

It will directly influence future advice and support for people with debt.

People can take part from home and will receive a £25 voucher for their time.

Anyone wanting to find out more about the project, or participate in a focus group should email Megan Lancaster mlancaster@changeworks.org.uk.

Courier petition calls for UK government to end unfair electricity charges

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