Highland Councilors need to think about what can be done for those most in need of help staying warm during the winter months.
It follows striking figures presented to members of the company’s resource committee illustrating the deeply concerning level of energy poverty and the difficult financial decisions facing Highland residents, especially those in rural areas.
Data for Highland shows:
• 33 percent of households in the Highlands are fuel poor compared to the national average of 24 percent.
• 22 percent of households in the Highlands face extreme fuel poverty, almost double the national average at 12 percent.
The numbers are measured by the Scottish House Condition 2021 report.
Energy Action Scotland said households living ‘off the gas grid’ – those not connected to the national gas grid – often have the most difficulty meeting fuel costs with analysis showing many areas with the highest rate of off-grid households, such as the Highlands and Islands, also had the highest number of people in fuel poverty.
Furthermore, with the average UK dual fuel bill standing at £ 1,138, Scottish consumers face an average bill of £ 1,759 and for those with only electricity the figure is rising further. to reach £ 2,276.
Last month the Scottish Government announced a £ 41million Winter Support Fund for low-income families, including £ 10million nationwide to help those struggling to pay their winter bills. fuel.
The Highland Council is expected to receive an allocation from this fund in order to alleviate the fuel problems faced by residents of the Highlands.
Highland Council Leader Councilor Margaret Davidson said: “In light of the clear concerns expressed by members across the House, and noting that a report on poverty was already due to be presented to Council in December, I will ask for a recommendation to come forward to this meeting.
“This will commit us to fundraising to help those in Highland who need help warming the most during the winter months.
“By then I also hope we have a clearer picture of the Scottish budget and how we can balance the books next year. Then we can decide what can be funded.”
She continued: “The current situation clearly demonstrates the urgent need for a UK-wide strategic review of our energy supply, market and infrastructure.”
The social assistance team provides free, impartial and confidential support on energy insecurity issues, in addition to offering assistance in verifying eligibility and submitting a claim for all benefits and rights.
Getting in touch with the welfare team is the first step in maximizing your income potential and managing your money well. They can be contacted by phone on 0800 090 1004 or by sending an email to [email protected]
Additionally, the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has a dedicated team of energy advisers who can undertake a series of energy checks designed to help reduce home fuel bills. CAB energy advisers can be contacted on 01463 237664.
Funding is also available from the Scottish Government, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and the Warm Homes Fund for those looking to implement energy efficiency measures in their home, such as adding a attic, cavity or exterior wall insulation to reduce heat loss and save on annual energy bills. . Check out www.highland.gov.uk/energyefficientscotland for more information.
Hot house discounts equivalent to £ 140 per year on household energy bills are available from some energy providers for low income people. Households are encouraged to contact their energy supplier to verify their eligibility.
Council financial documents reveal harsh reality of fuel poverty