Fuel poor pensioners in Western Isles

Councillor Angus McCormack chair of the Western Isles Poverty Action Group.
Councillor Angus McCormack chair of the Western Isles Poverty Action Group.

The Western Isles has the highest number of households experiencing fuel poverty in all Scotland say The Western Isles Poverty Action Group.

Statistics compiled by the ‘Scottish House Condition Survey’ published by the Government reveal that 25% of households in the Western Isles are in extreme fuel poverty (defined as using more than 20% of their income to heat their homes). And in over 50% of households experiencing fuel poverty, up to 13% of income is used to heat their homes.

A shock figure reveals that 83% of pensioners in the Outer Hebrides are fuel poor compared to the Scottish average of 50%.

The three principal causes of fuel poverty are:

High fuel costs

Low income and

Energy efficiency

Chair, Western Isles Poverty Action Group, Councillor Angus McCormack, says: “Recent developments towards the lowering of fuel prices locally are welcome but it is essential for the UK government to demonstrate that it is taking this issue seriously. The Scottish Government must do all it can to alleviate poverty in the Western Isles. Insulation schemes are welcome but not enough. More houses are needed and this in turn, will create jobs.”

He added: “The Comhairle, in determining its budgets for the next two years, must protect the weak and elderly, must maximise benefits uptake, must encourage economic development and jobs creation and must ensure that all monies available for insulation purposes and, where appropriate free schemes, are used. Supporting Third Sector partners in this strategy is crucial.

“The study makes it clear that if the situation is not changed by active intervention, then local families earning the national average wage will be in fuel poverty this year, 2012. This is unacceptable and every effort must be made to alleviate this situation.”