Latest figures confirm extent of fuel poverty

Up to 75 per cent cash back is available for home energy improvements. Photo: Shetland Islands Citizens Advice Bureau

WITH the latest Scottish house condition figures confirming once again the level of fuel poverty across the isles, energy advisers are reminding people that financial help for home energy improvements is available.

According to the Scottish house condition survey published on Tuesday, 14 per cent of dwellings in Shetland are in the least energy efficient category, while 31 per cent of households live in fuel poverty and 22 per cent suffer from extreme fuel poverty. All these figures are well above the national average.

A household is in fuel poverty when more than 10 per cent of its income is spent on heating the dwelling to a satisfactory level. Extreme fuel poverty is reached when 20 or more per cent goes towards heating.

Advisers from the local Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB) and Home Energy Scotland (HES) said government-funded grants and cheap loans are available to help reducing heating costs and urge people to apply sooner rather than later.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart meanwhile called on the Scottish Government to invest in a national insulation programme.

HES advisor John Clarkson said: “Higher cash back is available now, essentially a grant towards making your home more energy efficient.

“This operates on a first-come first-served basis or until the end of the financial year – whichever is sooner – so we’d encourage folk to apply as soon as possible.”

For the installation of energy efficiency measures, the Scottish Government will provide up to 40 per cent cash back, Clarkson said.

For example, up to £1,000 is available to install loft, floor or cavity wall insulation, (£600 loan plus £400 cash back), while up to £10,000 is available for installing solid wall insulation (£6,000 loan plus £4,000 cash back).

Greater support is available for households installing renewables, with up to 75 per cent cash back on offer.

Isa Kristiansen-Bragg of the Shetland CAB office added: “Many of us would benefit from installing these measures in our homes but cost is often a barrier.

“The HES loan makes these measures much more affordable and for those who aren’t able to take on a loan, there’s other financial support on offer.

“Our Energy Advisers can talk you through these options and get things moving, just contact us at sicab@shetland.org or 01595 694696.”

Wishart meanwhile said that more needs to be done to make a serious dent in the fuel poverty rates in Shetland, and across Scotland.

“A serious new national insulation programme would be a good first step to tackling fuel poverty, reducing emissions and would create thousands of much-needed new green jobs. We also need catch-up zones, so investment is focused on where it would make the biggest difference,” she said.

“As we recover from the pandemic it is vital that fuel poverty is given a needle-sharp focus so people in Shetland are not choosing between a warm home or a warm meal.”

Further information on the Home Energy Scotland loan can be found here.

Shetland News