John is calling on both the Scottish and UK Governments to take urgent action to tackle fuel poverty amongst older people in rural areas following the publication of a recent report.
Analysis by the Scottish Rural Colleges (SRUC) found that 60% of over 60’s living in rural areas suffered fuel poverty compared to 45% in the same age group living in urban areas.
On the Western and Northern Isles this figure rose to between 69 and 70%.
A household is considered to be living in fuel poverty when it spends over 10% of its income on gas and/or electricity.
Speaking on the issue, John said:
“Fuel Poverty has been on the political agenda in Scotland for over four decades but we continue to see households struggle to meet their bills.
“The SRUC report clearly demonstrates that there is no single solution to solve this crisis. Policy makers at all levels need to work within rural communities to increase participation in fuel efficiency and warm home schemes.
“Scotland is an energy rich nation and as such it is shameful that we have a situation where those living in rural areas are more likely than not to be in fuel poverty. Obviously there are great challenges in supplying energy to rural areas but that should not prevent us from fixing this scourge once and for all.
“I hope that the UK and Scottish Government, including politicians that sit in either Parliament, come together to tackle the myriad of problems which lead to this tragic statistic.
Motion S4M-10242: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 05/06/2014
2014 Rural Scotland in Focus Report
That the Parliament welcomes the report, Rural Scotland in Focus: 2014, produced by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC); understands that the report highlights the growing number of over-60s living in rural areas who are in fuel poverty; notes with concern the findings that rural pensioners are more likely to be in fuel poverty than not; further notes that the percentage of pensioners in fuel poverty across rural local authorities now reaches an average of 59% and is as high as 75% in Orkney; believes that all parties and governments must play a role in reversing this unacceptable statistic, and calls on all members to take up the report’s call for an overarching strategy for rural Scotland that properly challenges the interconnected issues that it faces.