Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has called on ministers from the Treasury to meet with local groups fighting fuel poverty to better understand the challenges in the isles, following the release of provisional statistics showing record winter mortality. The figures from the National Records of Scotland found there were 99 deaths in Shetland and 109 deaths in Orkney during the December-March period of 2022-23, the highest rate in over ten years and amidst a thirty year high across Scotland. Mr Carmichael highlighted the statistics in a question in Parliament on Tuesday.
Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“Orkney and Shetland have the worst rates of fuel poverty in the country, and provisional figures show that last year both Orkney and Shetland suffered record levels of winter mortality.
“Can I ask the minister if he will bring his colleagues together from across government to hear from agencies like THAW in Orkney who are working in this area to tackle fuel poverty? If we can tackle fuel poverty in Orkney and Shetland then we can tackle fuel poverty anywhere.”
Responding for the government, Financial Secretary to the Treasury Nigel Huddleston MP said:
“We are incredibly sympathetic to his constituents who have suffered a very difficult time. That’s why we introduced the Energy Price Guarantee which remains in place until March 2024 as a safety net. We continue to engage with lots of stakeholders, and we’re very happy to include the ones he suggests.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“There are a lot of factors which contribute to winter mortality, of which fuel poverty is only one. Even so this rise in winter deaths should be a reminder that the government cannot be complacent about supporting struggling families.
“It has never been more obvious that measures to tackle fuel poverty cannot be one-size-fits-all and the best way to make that clear is for ministers and officials to meet with people on the front line in the isles. I shall be following this matter up with ministers.”