Energy crisis Scotland: Fuel poverty in Shetland could hit 96 per cent in April as MSP warns 'vast challenge ahead'

Council chiefs have warned fuel poverty in Shetland could hit 96 per cent and that islanders must earn a salary of more than £100,000 to avoid being majorly impacted.

The leader of Shetland Islands Council has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer requesting government intervention after the predicted figures were outlined in analysis by council officers.

The analysis found people living on the island must earn a salary of £104,000 to avoid fuel poverty in April, with the average energy cost per household in Shetland potentially sitting at £10,300 – double that of the UK.

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Writing to Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, Emma Macdonald, the council leader, said the “stark” figures showed there needed to be “Shetland-proofed” assistance.

Shetland could hit 96 per cent and that islanders must earn a salary of over £100,000 to avoid impact, according to Shetland Island council officer analysis (PIC: Swifant/Creative Commons).
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"It’s not something that we can tackle alone and we do need immediate government support to do that,” she said.

Ms Macdonald told the BBC: "Although we are saying £10,300 could be the bill, some people will potentially be higher than that.

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"The cost of living is always higher in Shetland, anything between 20 per cent to 65 per cent. We have a significantly colder climate, we have homes with poor insulation, no access to mains gas.

"All of those things have an impact. The cost of living is higher, but we also have to have our heating on a lot more."

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Beatrice Wishart, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for Shetland, is also calling for the First Minister to “get her act together” and begin an emergency insulation programme to reduce bills.

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The MSP said: "My constituents already struggle with fuel poverty more than almost anywhere in the UK. These figures show the scale of the vast challenge ahead.

"One long-established business is saying that when they enter calculations for increasing energy costs in coming months, they turn into a ‘substantially loss-making entity’.

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"You shouldn't have to be a millionaire to stay warm this winter.

"The Conservatives and the SNP have been caught like deer in the headlights. They must act now to spare families from soaring energy bills by cancelling October’s price cap increase.

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"Liberal Democrats have set out plans to block the energy price rise before it happens, but we cannot wait weeks for a new Conservative Prime Minister to act. The Government must step in now to help families and pensioners in the isles and beyond by cancelling the planned rise in energy bills.

"Nicola Sturgeon must get her act together too. She needs to put every penny of the Scottish Government's budget to helping hard-hit households and kick start an emergency insulation programme to bring down bills."

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The Liberal Democrats are calling for the Government to pay suppliers the shortfall of what they would have been charging if the price cap had increased, so they can afford to continue supplying their customers.

The party estimates – based on Cornwall Insight’s latest forecasts for the new price cap – cancelling the rise would cost around £36 billion.

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By implementing a “proper” windfall tax, the party argues this could raise around £20bn to help keep people’s energy bills from rising in October.

The Government should also use the extra VAT revenues it is receiving as a result of inflation, according to the Lib Dems.

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The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

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