Isles representatives Alistair Carmichael MP, Liam McArthur MSP and Beatrice Wishart MSP have joined the Liberal Democrat campaign to urge Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to introduce a price cap on domestic heating oil, after prices more than doubled in a fortnight.
Currently, consumers heating their homes using gas or electricity have some protection from price rises under Ofgem’s energy price cap. However, there is no financial protection in place for the 1.5 million households that rely on heating oil.
Rural Liberal Democrat representatives are calling on the UK Government to urgently extend the energy price cap to off-grid households. In a letter to the Secretary of State, they highlighted that the price per litre of heating oil has surged from 66.74 pence on 24th February to 148.25 pence on 9th March - a 122% increase in a fortnight. Beatrice Wishart MSP and Liam McArthur MSP also wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson MSP, calling for the Scottish Government to back the Liberal Democrat initiative.
In total, around 4 million UK households are not connected to the gas grid, with 1.5 million of those homes relying on heating oil.
Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael said:
“Many families in the Highlands and Islands are off-grid for their heating systems – it is hard to understand why they should have less protection than others against volatile energy price hikes. We already have some of the worst rates of fuel poverty in the country so the absence of this cap is hardly helping matters – even if we have seen the limitations of the price cap itself in recent months.
“Ultimately this is a question of equality of treatment. If it was hard to justify the absence of a price cap for off-grid households before the current crisis, it is unfathomable now. If the Business Secretary cannot agree to a price cap for off-grid families then he had better offer an alternative solution – and fast.”
Orkney MSP, Liam McArthur said:
“While the cost-of-living crisis is affecting people across the country, those in island and rural communities face particular challenges.
“Spiralling costs to heat homes are compounded in off-gas grid areas like Orkney, where the price of heating oil is not covered by the energy price cap.
“Given these communities already suffer the highest levels of fuel poverty and extreme fuel poverty in the country, they deserve greater protection.”
Shetland MSP, Beatrice Wishart said:
“Islanders already count among those most likely to be in extreme fuel poverty. The UK and Scottish Governments need to do all they can to help households and families who are facing estimated costs for a 3-4-bedroom home of around £370 per month.
“We cannot allow the choice between heating and eating to become even more widespread. Off grid households need greater support and a cap on oil would be a great help to many islanders.”