Home   News   Article

FERGUS EWING: ‘Rural proofing’ needed in cost of living plans

By Fergus Ewing

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Fergus Ewing.
Fergus Ewing.

The cost of living crisis dominates the world of politics and rightly so.

Each day my team and I receive notes from constituents who are really struggling and in genuine worry for the colder months ahead.

I welcome the measures taken to provide help, by both governments, but it is far from certain either that it is sufficient, or that it will actually reach those who need it most.

The more generous benefits from the Scottish Government like the child payment are a little help certainly.

As the old Scots saying goes: “Mony a mickle maks a muckle.” Direct assistance with bills is also welcome. For many in the Highlands reliant on coal, wood, or off the gas grid, the help does not seem “rural proofed”.

This is an issue I am pressing our government on, and Drew Hendry MP is pressing the UK government.

I do not often criticise my political opponents because I try to prefer to focus on the positive. But it was with utter bafflement that I watched the new Prime Minister, elected by her party membership, choose, as her first acts, to lift the ban on bankers’ bonuses and reduce taxation for those earning more than £150,000.

Any new leader enjoys a so-called “political honeymoon” perhaps because, party politics aside, all of us want to give any person a chance in a new position to show what they can do. Her subsequent U-turn was executed with the rapidity of a black hackney cab driver in a busy city street.

Last winter we had electricity power cuts in the north which for many people was for several hours or even days. My family, living near Boat of Garten, were fortunate in that, when our electric heating was off during the cut, we had the alternative of an open fire in one room and a supply of wood. It was our only heating.

We must surely abandon any further action by some in the public sector to remove open fires from people’s homes, given they are the sole mode of heating for many when there is a power cut. We saw this happen in council houses in Braemar, Aberdeenshire – an act that was rightly challenged by Councillor Geva Blackett and others.

That must also be a very serious consideration for what happens under Scottish Government plans for replacement of gas or oil domestic heating with renewable systems powered by electricity. I am raising this with the relevant minister in the Scottish Government to ask what he is going to do about this significant rural problem.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More