Concerns over ‘working poor’ living in fuel poverty

About 400 households are on the waiting list for energy efficiency improvements.

Shetland has been granted £820,000 to tackle fuel poverty and carbon reduction in 2014/15 from the Scottish government’s home energy scheme.

A meeting of the council’s environment and transport committee heard on Monday that people in Shetland are spending more on their heating bills than anywhere else in Scotland, and grants worth up to £7,500 could be available for work including insulation and draught-proofing.

However, this will only be applied to private houses in the council tax bands A, B, and C, which covers 80 per cent of Shetland homes. Priority will be given to those in receipt of benefits, terminally ill, disabled or pensioners, or families with young children.

Householders in council tax bands D and above will not be eligible for grants, but they can have a full Green Deal survey costing £150.

Senior council official Carl Symons said he would like to see the grant scheme extended to take in more council tax bands, and especially to help the “working poor”. He recognised that many Shetland households in fuel poverty cannot receive government benefits, being just above the threshold, although their situation may be more critical than those on benefits.

He said: “The working poor and fuel poverty is an issue … people can only afford to heat part of their house but don’t qualify for any benefits because they’re working.”

The funding allocated is part of a 10-year programme. In 2013/14, a government fund of £400,000 helped more than 50 private households with energy efficiency measures.

The meeting heard that the biggest problem in implementing the scheme would be lack of local labour – local contractors being preferred to using contractors from the mainland, although this might have to be explored.

Team leader Mary Lisk said there are about 400 households on the waiting list, and local contractors will have to be “upskilled” to carry out the work in the necessary timeframe. It is hoped that 130 homes will be done this year.

Mr Symons said that competition for contractors, especially in the mechanical and electrical sectors, is “fierce” because of competition from the oil and gas industries.


Add Your Comment
  • Mark Griffus

    • June 18th, 2014 16:46

    Wish the Council would do something about their houses to make them energy efficent, cracks in the outer walls little to no insulation in the walls, a boiler that is twenty years old and heating systems which are just as out dated, useless in the Shetland climate and energy consuming in comparrison with heaters fifeteen years ago. The Council spend as little as possible on there houses which is going to cost them long term. I have not had someone come from the council to do a full house inspection in the eighteen years i have lived in the house. Would you do that if it were your house? No is the answer and why? Because your property would deterioate and you would end up spending more money long term. Tell the housing department something serious needs fixing and there reply is Oh that can’t be so the house is a new build, would you classify a house that is twenty years old a new build? No neither would i, or they have no record of you calling them two weeks ago so you explain the situation again and wait another two weeks and phone again and they have no record so jobs don’t get done and don’t get done and the houses in my street are gradually deteriorating as you get fed up with calling and getting spoken to like your stupid. A friend of mine who has a daughter tried for two years to get a new boiler the water was leaking of the bottom of it, eventually he cracked and threatened to take the housing to court and they were at his house two days later and replaced the boiler.

    • Johan Adamson

      • June 19th, 2014 10:19

      The SIC didn’t think the NINES scheme Hjaltland Housing Association is doing was worthwhile for their houses, that would have modernised the heating.

  • Johan Adamson

    • June 19th, 2014 10:38

    I’ve been telling my mam for a while she should try to move from her ’70s SIC sheltered house to a super warm new Hjaltland property. She would hardly have her heating on, whereas now they have to pay for it themselves, they can’t afford to heat the environment in the sheltered houses. If she wasn’t nearly 80 she might have been able to move.

  • David Spence

    • June 19th, 2014 15:37

    It is almost laughable, as one vile Tory MP said ‘ The consumer has a great choice in a free market enterprise when it comes to selecting what energy supplier they wish to use ‘………yes, the choice of 6 main suppliers who, I suspect, fix prices and decide which parts of the country should pay more.

    What is even more laughable was this vile Tories answer in tackling the energy companies strangle hold on the consumer by changing legislation where the consumer would be better off by a whole £50 a year on their energy bills…………which was instantly wiped out by the energy companies raising their prices by an extra 6.6% (equal to an extra £100.00 on the average bill).

    I will be interested in what an Independent Scotland will do in tackling the monopoly factor the energy companies have, and whether or not stiffer regulation should be introduced to cap or restrict these companies putting greed and profit ahead of the needy in society and forcing people to make a choice between heating or feeding. The whole sale prices of energy has gone down quite considerably, but this vile Tory Governments answer has been zero in terms of the energy companies lowering their charges. Yes, the regulator has now got involved, but I suspect there will be no difference in the rip-off rates these energy companies are charging the consumer…………’ Look after the boys ‘ is this Governments moto……They are a disgrace.

  • john ridland

    • June 20th, 2014 10:42

    Maybe if folk spent a bit less on flat screen TVs , dogs ,holidays and the newst mobile phones . there might be a bit less of this so called ” fuel poverty”.!

    • John Tulloch

      • June 20th, 2014 17:16

      ‘Old school’, John, you have all the Hallmarks.

      Fuel poverty is defined as having to spend at least 10 percent of your take-home pay on energy, it takes no account of what you spend the rest on.

  • Rachel Buchan

    • June 20th, 2014 18:45

    It’s not “so called”, it’s real and it causes not only misery and discomfort, but sometimes severe illness or death.


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