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Highlands Green MSP calls for action on heating bills

By Gregor White

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A Highlands MSP believes more could be done to address fuel poverty.
A Highlands MSP believes more could be done to address fuel poverty.

Households across the Highlands will be bracing for a cold start to the new year with the increase to Ofgem’s price cap on energy bills.

The five per cent increase for the first quarter of the year means average households paying by direct debit for dual fuel will have to find £1928 to cover their annual bill – a rise of £94 over the course of a year according to Greens MSP Ariane Burgess.

She said: “We know rural Scotland experiences higher levels of fuel poverty than the rest of the country, particularly the Scottish Highlands and Islands. In remote rural areas, fuel poverty rates are around 40 per cent - that’s four in 10 homes that struggle to afford these essential costs.

“As winter bites, the failure of the UK government to support rural households facing higher fuel prices means the burden is falling unfairly on those who are already battling with lower incomes, more inefficient housing, a colder climate and more expensive heating systems.

“Scottish Greens in government are working to improve energy efficiency – providing rural uplift on energy efficiency grants, launching the expanded Warmer Homes Scotland scheme this autumn and changing planning rules around energy efficiency and domestic renewables but the UK government must do more to tackle high fuel prices.

“Some of the measures Ofgem and the UK government could take are: the introduction of a social tariff through a review of the Electricity Market Arrangements; directing Ofgem to review standing charges; and improving protections for restricted meter customers.

“With so much of the UK’s energy generated and supplied by the Highlands and Islands, it’s particularly unfair that households here are so vulnerable to these unmanageable price increases.

"It’s time for the UK government to join the Scottish Government in prioritising rural communities for support.”

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