Fuel poverty: Isles representatives call for urgent government settlement of THAW funding issues

Isles representatives Alistair Carmichael MP and Liam McArthur MSP have spoken out today to call for an urgent resolution of regulatory issues preventing the continuation of funding for fuel poverty organisation THAW Orkney, following a letter to the Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, by Mr Carmichael. The Orkney parliamentarians have been in correspondence and meetings with THAW Orkney, the British Gas Energy Trust (BGET) which is its primary funder, and government ministers regarding barriers to a continued funding settlement.

BGET has been unable to commit to funding for THAW beyond the next few months due to an ongoing dispute between the Scottish and UK governments about the future administration of the Warm Home Discount, which has delayed the setting of necessary regulations by the UK parliament.

Commenting on the letter, Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael said:

“These are challenging enough times for people in fuel poverty as it is without piling uncertainty on top. That THAW’s funding has been put in doubt for so long is unacceptable, both for local people who rely on their help and advice and indeed for the dedicated staff at THAW themselves who have been caught in the middle.

“It is frustrating that these disputes – whether through stubbornness or brinksmanship – between our governments are getting in the way of the basic functioning of a vital local organisation. There are legitimate discussions that can be had about how these wider schemes operate in Scotland in the long term but that should not get in the way of THAW’s remit in Orkney here and now.”

Orkney MSP, Liam McArthur added:

“In the midst of a cost of energy crisis, it is utterly reckless that THAW's future is in jeopardy due to a disagreement between UK and Scottish governments over how funding is allocated.

“It is all the more astonishing given Orkney has some of the highest levels of fuel poverty in the country. THAW has provided an invaluable service to many local households, including some of the most vulnerable in our community.

“This risk to its funding could scarcely come at a worse time. While the UK and Scottish Governments continue to debate the future structure of the scheme, UK Ministers must urgently bring forward legislation to allow this crucial funding to be continued for at least another year.”

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