The Office of Fair Trading may visit the Western Isles in June to gather further evidence of the markets in rural communities.
Western Isles MP Angus B MacNeil attended a parliamentary meeting with the OFT in Portcullis House in London earlier this week and said there was a recognition there was a price premium on goods to remote and rural areas. These include fuel and delivery costs.
Speaking after the meeting, Angus MacNeil said:
“We are all acutely aware of the high cost of fuel in our islands and the difficulties with delivery charges, which figured highly in the OFT concerns for remote and rural areas, and I welcome the steps taken by the OFT in trying to address these issues.
“The OFT cited work by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation that estimates a price premium of 20% for goods and services in both remote and rural areas, with travel affecting costs of distribution. In essence, these costs affect employment, education, shopping and other key services.
“We have known in the islands about this for a long while, but it is has to be welcomed that the OFT is starting to shine a light into the hidden costs that we encounter in the islands on a day to day basis. Amongst the issues that are on the OFT radar screen, are the costs of fuel and delivery charges and especially firms that don’t deliver to islands or do so at an extortionate rate. Perhaps there could be a role for the Scottish Government here too who subsidise transportation from our taxes to help bring full transparency to delivery charges.
“Meanwhile following my invite, the OFT are hoping to be in the islands in June to gather further evidence from those whom they consider stakeholders and I am happy to raise any additional issues with the OFT if any businesses or individuals would like me to do so.”