Carmichael raises winter storm fuel poverty concerns in cost-of-living debate

17 Jan 2024

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has raised the need to cut fuel poverty for pensioners in a parliamentary debate on pensioners and the cost of living led by Wendy Chamberlain MP. Speaking in Parliament last night [Tuesday], Mr Carmichael highlighted the impact of the recent cold weather in the Northern Isles and repeated calls for Ofgem to play its role in the creation of a social tariff or geographic tariff to cut fuel poverty in the worst-affected areas.

Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:

“While we are on energy prices, I am acutely aware that, as we speak, pensioners in my constituency are having to brave serious snow conditions and, because we have the highest level of fuel poverty anywhere in the country, they will feel literally and metaphorically out in the cold. Does my hon. Friend agree that Ofgem has a role to play in the creation of a social tariff, or even a geographically-based tariff?”

Responding, Wendy Chamberlain MP said:

“One challenge in my right hon. Friend’s constituency is the number of his constituents who are off grid. We know that there is a lack of regulation in the sector off grid. One other challenge for the Government in responding to energy price fluctuations was getting a lot of money out to many people easily, and administrative issues materialised for those off grid. Many of them have still not seen the money to which they are entitled. We need to look at better regulation of our energy system.”

Reacting after the debate, Mr Carmichael said:

“This week’s winter storm is a visible reminder of how harsh our climate can be in the Northern Isles – and why our fuel poverty rates are so much higher than much of the rest of the country. It surely cannot be beyond the wit of man to implement a system that would account for the higher energy needs of people in colder parts of the UK.

“Now is the time to bring back social tariffs for energy, particular for the most vulnerable people such as pensioners. The acceptance of the need of a social tariff by Ofgem surely opens the door to a geographical tariff, which would take into account not just income but the reality of our climate.”

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