Energy crisis: People who use heating oil, LPG and solid fuels need help to cope with soaring prices too – Kenny MacAskill MP
Gas and electricity bills have been making folk swoon, if not faint.
But these heating supplies are still subject to regulation. Ofgem can act and the Chancellor could direct them to do so. Some element of control therefore still remains, even if it may not seem any comfort to those currently despairing as to how they’ll manage to meet these bills.
However, other fuels remain unregulated. That is, they’re not subject to any regulation at all in price though of course controls on heath and safety still apply. But Ofgem has neither the remit nor the powers to intervene.
Those fuels include heating oil, LPG, and solid fuel. I asked the Chancellor if he planned to address what appears, after all, to be an anomaly and certainly a worry for those who depend upon those type of fuels, but he demurred.
The numbers aren’t insignificant as it’s reckoned that some five per cent of households rely on oil for heating, though the other fuels seem to be at a far lower level. But five per cent in Scotland is still a significant number as total households number just under 2.4 million, meaning that 120,000 homes or so are affected and tens of thousands have other types of fuel.
Costs there have likewise rocketed and there’s neither a ceiling nor a way of capping them.
Exacerbating that is the fact that many are in the north and Highlands, though rural parts throughout the country are affected. In East Lothian, it’s not just isolated cottages but even some villages. After all, it tends not to have been a lifestyle choice, but a factor forced upon them by their location and lack of proximity to the gas grid.
Costs have historically been higher for them and the easy use of gas has been missing. It’s no surprise either that these areas tend to have the highest rates of fuel poverty.
Overall, the number of people in fuel poverty in Scotland could be approaching one in three and more than 50 per cent in the islands.
It’s why the Chancellor needs to not just act on gas and electricity prices but regulate and act on these other fuel supplies.
Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian
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