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Fuel poverty soundings taken in Inverness area from Scottish Government advisory group after 'devastating' Changeworks report

By Alasdair Fraser

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Gas hob.
Gas hob.

An influential Scottish Government advisory group has taken soundings in the Inverness area from people and organisations at the sharp end of the struggle against fuel poverty.

The Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel took time to talk to Highland people with lived experience of the issue while focusing on its impact to discuss on more remote, rural and island communities.

The additional insight from the recent visit will form a key part in advising Scottish Ministers on rural poverty issues.

The aim is to tackle the key drivers and unique pressures faced by those living in challenging climates and off gas-grid.

Electricity meter with pound coins.
Electricity meter with pound coins.

The panel then continued public engagement through a series of discussions with Highland Council and organisations including Argyll Lomond & the Islands Energy Agency, energy efficiency charity Changeworks, Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust and the Highlands & Islands Housing Association’s affordable warmth group (HIHAAW).

The panel was appointed in 2022 to advise and scrutinise the Scottish Government on its progress in tackling the issue and is engaging widely across the public, third and energy sectors to identify the changes needed.

Matthew Cole, chairman of the panel, said: “A recent report by Changeworks uncovered the devastating extent of rural fuel poverty in Scotland.

“With winter approaching and energy costs continuing to drive rising levels of fuel rationing, we know that off-gas grid households, the majority of which are located rurally, continue to face the most difficult of choices, such as whether to eat or heat.

“Action is needed to avoid the effects of the current crisis worsening and people’s quality of life being further impacted.

“We’re committed to working collaboratively to effectively tackle fuel poverty and ensure the right support is available.

“This visit will allow us to build our knowledge base to best ensure that the experience of – and challenges faced by – Scotland’s rural and island households are fully considered in fuel poverty reduction efforts.”

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