Rural fuel poverty taskforce meets in Inverness
The Scottish Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force is meeting for the first time in Inverness today, exploring the issues facing people from rural communities who are in fuel poverty.
The new group has been established by the Scottish Government to find ways of making it easier and more affordable for people in rural and remote Scotland to heat their homes.
The group will be chaired by Di Alexander, chair of the Rural and Highlands Housing Associations’ Forum and will prepare a report on its findings over the next year.
Housing minister Margaret Burgess announced the creation of the group as part of her Summer tour to Orkney, where she met the local authority to discuss home energy efficiency schemes.
Mrs Burgess said: “People in rural areas can often struggle to heat their homes because their properties tend to be more exposed to wind and weather and are more expensive to heat as the majority are not connected to mains gas supplies. It is unacceptable for people to face these fuel poverty challenges just because of where they live.
“Our new Scottish Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force will come up with a range of ideas specifically tailored to help people in more remote parts of Scotland reduce their fuel costs and keep their homes warm.
“We are committed to making sure everyone has access to an affordable warm home, and we are investing heavily in energy efficiency schemes. Our £65 million for HEEPS: Area-Based Schemes is directed to those areas most in need of assistance, including our rural areas.
“People in Orkney will benefit from energy efficiency measures such as cavity wall and loft insulation measures through this scheme while the Home Energy Scotland hotline continues to offer free and impartial advice on how people can reduce their energy costs.
“By making sure people in the islands and in more rural parts of the country have the same chances to make their homes warmer, cheaper and easier to heat, we are tackling the inequalities that exist in our country.”
Di Alexander said: “Affordable warmth is still presenting a major problem for far too many rural and island households, especially those living in doubly disadvantaged off-gas areas.
“The job of the Task Force is to come up with practicable and deliverable solutions to all aspects of the problem and I’m delighted that we will have so much problem-solving experience to draw upon when we set to our task.”
Cllr Steven Heddle, convener of Orkney Islands Council, added: “We welcome the setting up of the new Scottish Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force. There will be representation from the islands and we look forward to playing our part in the development of innovative ways to help people reduce the cost of keeping their homes warm in communities like ours.”