Tavish Scott’s Liberal Democrat colleagues, Jim Hume MSP and Alison McInnes MSP, led a debate last week calling for a fresh approach to fuel poverty, as the Scottish Government remains on course to miss its target to eradicate fuel poverty by November 2016.
National statistics published last month showed that more than one-in-three households remain in fuel poverty and one-in-10 in extreme fuel poverty.
According to the Scottish Housing statistics survey 2011-2013, Shetland has the third highest rate of fuel poverty in the country, after the Western Isles and Orkney respectively. Forty-three per cent of Shetland households are in fuel poverty and thirteen per cent of homes experience extreme fuel poverty.
The motion moved by Tavish Scott colleague, Jim Hume MSP, demanded that the Scottish Government reverse proposed cuts to fuel poverty programmes in the draft 2016-17 budget. It also called on Ministers to revise the 2016 fuel poverty target, examine whether its definition of fuel poverty needs to be updated and commit to additional measures to lift people out of fuel poverty.
It was the first dedicated fuel poverty debate by the full parliament since April 2014.
Commenting after the debate, Tavish Scott said:
“Liberal Democrats led a debate on the issue in parliament, allowing for a cross-party debate to consider solutions to fuel poverty. I am therefore disappointed that the Scottish Government appears determined to stick to its guns.
“This is disappointing, not least given the cut in fuel poverty spending by 13% proposed by Ministers for next year. This move will only make a difficult situation worse.
“We need the government to reconsider their strategy. In Shetland, with our exceptional climate, we also need as much flexibility as possible to tailor measures appropriately. The partnership approach that has been adopted locally has the potential to work. It must be funded sufficiently, however, if it is to make progress in tackling the scourge of fuel poverty in Shetland”.