Northern Isles representatives, Alistair Carmichael MP, Beatrice Wishart MSP and Liam McArthur MSP, have hit out over eye watering energy bills exceeding the price cap in Shetland and over 96% in Orkney.
Data from the online comparison site Compare the Market revealed that the average annual energy bills in Shetland were £2,642, which is 106.9% above the energy price cap, while Orkney residents paid an average of 96.1% over the price cap at £2,504 – both approximately double what the energy price cap is supposed to be, partially linked to the lack of a price cap on heating oil which is more widely used in rural communities.
Liberal Democrats have been calling for price cap on domestic oil heating to provide greater financial protection for the 1.5 million households in rural and island communities that rely on heating oil. Earlier this month Northern Isles MP, Alistair Carmichael, wrote to the Secretary of State for Business, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, on the issue. MSPs Liam McArthur and Beatrice Wishart have also written to the Scottish Government calling for their support of a price cap and to launch an emergency insulation programme.
Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael said:
“The latest figures confirm something we already knew too well here in the isles – our communities pay more than anywhere else in the UK for our energy. The fact that we pay roughly double the supposed price cap tells a simple tale – that heating oil needs to be included under that price cap umbrella to prevent these extreme prices.
“It is a reminder first that we need more care from our governments and more interest in differential policies which could mitigate the higher prices we pay, whether through an isles tariff, caps on heating oil costs or other direct support. It is a reminder too that far more political energy needs to be spent on getting insulation programmes up and running so that our homes can be warmer and greener at the same time. Now is the time for proper investment for the good of families’ balance sheets and the sustainability of our communities.”
Orkney MSP, Liam McArthur said:
"Our islands make an enormous contribution to renewable energy production, yet people in Orkney continue to be landed with some of the highest energy bills in the UK. Little wonder, Orkney suffers from the worst levels of fuel poverty and extreme fuel poverty.
"This situation is not sustainable or acceptable. What we need now is for the UK Government to step in and apply the energy cap to heating oil. We also need Scottish Ministers to pick up the pace on retrofitting and renewable heat installation to drive up energy efficiency, cut energy bills and achieve our long-term fuel poverty and emissions ambitions."
Shetland MSP, Beatrice Wishart said:
“These figures show just how much of a serious problem energy costs are in Shetland. It is unacceptable that the cap has been exceeded, probably as a consequence of the number of off-grid households in Shetland using heating oil, which is not covered by a cap on costs.
“Heating is an essential utility and more must be done to bring the price down before we move into the winter months. Liberal Democrats will continue to call for long-term action on insulation, and seek measures such a heating oil price cap to benefit rural and island communities.
“I also want to see other measures put in place to tackle the rise of heating costs and the cost of living crisis, such as an emergency VAT cut. This would help put money back in people’s pockets when everyone is feeling the pinch.”