Fuel poverty figures are “seriously frightening” says councillor

The number of people living in fuel poverty in Dumfries and Galloway is “seriously frightening”, according Stranraer and the Rhins councillor Willie Scobie.

By Marc McLean - Local Democracy Reporting Service
Monday, 20th June 2022, 3:45 pm
Councillor Willie Scobie was shocked by the figures in a new council report on energy efficiency
Councillor Willie Scobie was shocked by the figures in a new council report on energy efficiency

Councillor Scobie was shocked to learn from a new council report on energy efficiency that more than one in four households are forking out for sky high gas and electricity bills, while 16 percent are in extreme fuel poverty.

Both of these figures are above the national average and he is calling for more to be done to help people heat their homes cost-effectively.

Councillor Scobie spoke out at Dumfries and Galloway Council’s economy and resources committee where a report was tabled on the condition of houses and new funding received for energy efficiency measures.

He said: “I’m looking at this report and the seriously frightening figures. We are running at 28 percent – while the national average is 25 percent – of those living in fuel poverty.

“And these figures have been with us for a considerable time, both in socially-rented properties and in the private sector.

“How do we take advantage of the area-based schemes and lead onto local heating projects that can reduce the fuel poverty that people are experiencing?

“We’re not just talking about people living on benefits, but it was also predicted that we’d now be looking at people on the middle income bracket that would fall into fuel poverty.”A huge programme of works are being lined up which will see properties upgraded with energy efficiency measures, including solid wall insulation.The Scottish Government has allocated the council nearly £2.4m as part of its Energy Efficient Scotland area-based scheme.This aims to assist homeowners, as well as people living in the private-rented sector, by providing measures that will help reduce energy usage and costs.

Four key areas were identified in Lochside, Lincluden, Eastriggs, and Stranraer where this government funding will be spent to make homes more energy efficient.

Dee and Glenkens councillor Dougie Campbell said: “I am happy to support the areas proposed in the area-based scheme, but I put out an appeal for subsequent years that we don’t neglect other areas in the west of the region.

“It would be useful next time if we got some explanation why some areas weren’t chosen because I know of a lot of people in my ward who are living in fuel poverty, and it’s going to get a lot worse.”

David Little, council housing investment and regeneration team leader, said: “No area is excluded from the scheme. While these projects that we’re seeking members’ agreement to here will be the targeted areas, should anyone come forward outwith those areas, then obviously their properties will be assessed.“The intention here is to target specific properties that we’ve both identified as being suitable for the installation of solid wall insulation but also in areas that have been identified to be most likely in fuel poverty.”The Scottish Government aims to ensure that no more than five percent of households in Scotland will be in fuel poverty by 2040.