Dundee locals discuss fuel poverty issues with Holyrood committee

A group of MSPs from the Scottish Parliament’s local government and communities committee met with Dundee residents who struggle to heat their homes.

The meeting is a part of the committee’s examination of a new Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill. The Bill sets a new target that no more than 5% of households in Scotland will live in fuel poverty by 2040.

Locals and MSPs met at Lochee Community Hub on November 19 to discuss the current level of support for people facing high fuel bills, the barriers to seeking support and what could be put in place in the future to make improvements.

Convener of the local government and communities committee, James Dornan MSP, said: “It was really valuable to hear directly from communities in Dundee on how fuel poverty impacts their day-to-day lives.

“As we approach the colder months, it can be a particularly tough time for many individuals and families who can’t afford to keep their homes warm, or are forced to choose between heating or eating because of fuel costs.

“What we have learned from our visit in Dundee will help to shape the committee’s work in examining the Bill, and whether it will help tackle and eradiate fuel poverty in the future.”

Carolynn McQueen

Carolynn McQueen, who is 54 years old, took part in the committee’s fuel poverty focus group in Dundee.

She said: “I really enjoyed speaking to the committee and found it tough to hear that so many people still have to live in freezing cold homes in Dundee.

“I experienced fuel poverty when I moved into a farm cottage in Anstruther. It seemed like the perfect first home for me and my partner, and the idyllic cottage I had always wanted.

“But I soon found I couldn’t afford to pay the heating bills, on top of petrol costs to drive to work, as well as money for food and essentials.

“Some nights, we went to bed wearing gloves and hats just to try to keep warm. I had two thick duvets and a throw, as well as hot water bottles, just to avoid turning on the heating.

“Even with all of these layers, I remember waking up with ice crystals on our noses and cheeks. It was the coldest I’ve ever felt and it really impacted my arthritis and made me feel depressed.

“I’ve now managed to find a fantastic home through Kingdom housing in Fife – the difference is like night and day and my house is now well-insulated. I hope that no one has to go through what I’ve been through, and that this new legislation can make a difference.”

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