Tha dùsgadh a dhìth mu thimcheall cumhachd is dealain, le Murray MacLeòid

Tha aithisg ùr bhon bhuidhinn charthannais Cumhachd Gnìomh na h-Alba a’ sealltainn dhuinn dìreach cho àrd is a tha na cosgaisean-connaidh air a dhol thairis air a’ bhliadhna a dh’fhalbh.

Tha mu 80% de thaighean anns na h-eileanan a-nis ann am bochdainn connaidh
Tha mu 80% de thaighean anns na h-eileanan a-nis ann am bochdainn connaidh

[English-language version below]

Ged nach bi e na naidheachd mhòr sam bith dha duine againn, agus sinn gu lèir ga fhaireachdainn nar pòcaidean, tha e na chuideachadh ann an a bhith a’ soilleireachadh an duilgheadais.

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Ann an seo anns na h-Eileanan, sa chumantas, tha a’ chosgais air èirigh bho £1,754 an-uiridh gu £4,212 am bliadhna.

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Nuair a thig e gu cumhachd agus na h-eileaan, feumar cuimhneachadh gu bheil prìs an dealain nas àirde na tha e an àitichean eile agus tha sinn barrachd an eisimeil an dealain ri linn ‘s nach eil siostam gas ri làimh. Le sin, tha na h-eileanan gu sònraichte ann an suidheachadh cugallach nuair a thig e gu prìs a’ chonnaidh.

Tha an aithisg ag ràdh ri linn mar a tha an suidheachadh air atharrachadh thairis na 12 mìosan a dh’fhalbh – sia mìosan airson a bhith buileach ceart – gu bheil grunn sgìrean ann an Alba far a bheil bochdainn connaidh air a dhol an àirde gu mòr.

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Tha bochdainn connaidh air a mheas nuair a tha deich sa chiad de dh’airgead na dachaighe air a chaitheamh air cumail blàth ‘s tha grunn sgìrean dùthchail a-nis far a bheil sin nas àirde na 50%.

Tha seo cudromach. ‘S ann anns na h-Eileanan an Iar a bha na h-ìrean as miosa gu h-àabhaisteach, ach fiù ‘s aig an sin, cha robhas a’ bruidhinn ach eadar 30 is 40% de thaighean – ach gu lèor airson toirt air na h-ùghdarrasan smaoineachadh gum feumar rudeigin a dhèanamh.

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Tha seo a-nis air atharrachadh gu mòr, le fada a bharrachd thaighean a’ tighinn a-steach air a' ghnothach agus ann am barrachd sgìrean.

Chan eileas fhathast air obrachadh a-mach cia mheud anns na h-eileanan a tha a-nis ann am bochdainn connaidh, ach a-rèir a’ chomhairliche Aonghas MacCarmaig, cathraiche buidheann-gnìomh nan eilean air bochdainn, bidh e suas aig 80%. Fad is farsaing is domhainn.

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‘S dòcha nach eil ann an seo ach feuchainn ri criomag de dhòchas a lorg am measg an dorchadais, ach ‘s dòcha gun toir seo nan duilgheadasan a tha air a bhith ann airson greis gu solas cruaidh an là/

Cha bu chòir dha a bhith cus ga prìs an dealain a bhith an aon rud às bith càite anns an dùthaich anns a bheil thu a’ fuireach – prionnsabal na stampa-puist, dh’fhaodadh tu a ràdh – airson an ana-cheartas a tha seo a chur ceart.

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Le Keir Starmer a’ gabhail ri companaidh cumhachd nàiseanta, agus e a’ coimhead caran coltach gur e an ath phrìomhaire a bhios againn, chan eil e cho do-chreidsinneach gun tig a thoirt beò, ’s a bhia e dìreach beagan mhìosan air ais.

A thuilleadh air an sin tha fada a bharrachd a dhìth airson còmhdach a chur ann an taighean a bhiodh a’ ciallachadh nach fheumar uimhir airson cumail blàth. Tha na sgeamaichean a tha ann an-dràsta duilich a thuigsinn agus duilich fhaighinn.

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Bu chòir do thaigh sam bith a tha nas sine na 20 bliadhna measadh an-asgaidh fhaighinn air dè an obair a tha dhìth airson cosgaisean cumhachd a gheàrradh. A bharrachd air càil eile, bu chòir a dhèanamh ma choinneimh targaidean air cumhachd cothromach.

Tha an t-amas an-dràsta air iadsan as fheumaiche air cuideachadh, ach a’ coimhead nas fhaide air adhart, bu chòir seo dùsgadh adhbhrachadh air ciamar a tha a h-uile duine againn a’ dol a chumail ar dachaighean blàth sna bliadhnachan ri thighinn.

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English-language version:

A new report by the national charity Energy Action Scotland has highlighted just how much our energy bills have soared in the last 12 months and, while it will hardly serve as any major revelation given how much we are all feeling the fiscal pinch, it does help to clarify the crisis at hand.

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Here in the Outer Hebrides, EAS say the average bill for heating the home has gone up by a staggering 240 per cent, from an average of £1,754 last year to £4,212 now.

There are two things to bear in mind when assessing energy consumption in an island context.

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Firstly, electricity unit costs are higher than on the mainland and, secondly, there is greater dependence on electricity because there is no access to mains gas which is a far cheaper form of domestic fuel.

So when it comes to energy usage, the islands are particularly vulnerable from price hikes.

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EAS say that as a result of the changing situation over in the last 12 months – or more accurately in the last six months – fuel poverty in many areas of Scotland (where households spend over ten per cent of their income on keeping warm) has now passed the 50 per cent barrier.

This is unprecedented. The Outer Hebrides have the worst record by far when it comes to this litmus test, but even then you were only talking about 30 to 40 per cent of households falling below the threshold – still enough to persuade the authorities that something must be done.

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Now the situation has changed dramatically for the worse, with far more households being categorised as such and it now being replicated across many other rural areas.

A new calculation on how many island homes are in fuel poverty has not been done yet, but according to councillor Angus McCormack, who chairs the Western Isles Poverty Action Group, it will be around the 80 per cent mark. In other words, endemic.

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It may be a case of trying to identify a positive in the most depressing of circumstances, but the hope is that it will finally bring long-standing issues to the fore, and to the conscience of the wider public.

It should not be too much to ask of a responsible and fair society that energy costs be based on the postage stamp principle of costing the same in every part of the country to prevent an inequality of service on a matter of such crucial importance.

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Given Keir Starmer’s commitment to the principles that are inherent in a national energy company, along with his prospects of entering Number 10 now being much closer to reality, this doesn’t seem as far-fetched as it may have done even a few months ago.

Secondly, and this is for the Scottish Government, there is a need for much more work on improving insulation and energy efficiency, which is currently clogged up in various schemes that are haphazard, difficult to understand and far too complex to access.

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It should simply be the case that any property over 20 years of age in which someone lives should qualify for a free assessment on what work needs to be done to cut energy consumption. Apart from anything else, there are good reasons to do this from a net-zero point of view.

The main aim just now is rightly on protecting the most vulnerable from the worst of the hardships, but looking further ahead it should also serve as a wake-up call on how we keep our homes warm in the future.

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