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Jamie Stone claims UK energy policy is 'fundamentally broken' as he sets out fuel poverty concerns


By Alan Hendry

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Fuel poverty was described by Jamie Stone as 'an unacceptable blight across society'.
Fuel poverty was described by Jamie Stone as 'an unacceptable blight across society'.

Local MP Jamie Stone has described energy policy in the UK as "fundamentally broken" after underlining his concerns over an escalation in fuel poverty.

He said households in the Highlands pay more per unit of electricity than those in other parts of the country, even though the region produces more than 300 per cent of its electricity demand from renewable sources.

Mr Stone accused the UK government of failing to act despite "sensible proposals" having been put forward.

The Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross led a Westminster Hall debate on the cost of gas and electricity.

It comes at a time when the price cap on energy bills is expected to rise by 45 per cent. That could see the energy price cap reaching £2000 a year, or £165 a month, Mr Stone warned.

Without government intervention, he said, this rise could take the total number of households in fuel poverty to six million.

He pointed to figures showing that 33 per cent of households in so-called remote rural areas of Scotland are in "extreme fuel poverty", with a further nine per cent in "ordinary fuel poverty" – a total of 42 per cent. This compares to 24 per cent of households in the rest of Scotland.

"Fuel poverty is a clear priority issue for remote rural constituencies, but an unacceptable blight across society," Mr Stone said. "We are watching the nation plummet further into a fuel poverty crisis and the government has no plans to tackle it.

"In the far north, there is an absence of mains gas supply to many properties. The comparative prices of electricity and domestic oil, which are used more heavily for things like heating water, mean that remote rural households are already paying a premium on their energy bills.

"The Highlands produces more than 300 per cent of its electricity demand from renewable sources, exporting the rest to other parts of the UK. And yet, due to the transmission charging regime, Highland households pay more per unit of electricity, pushing energy bills up even further.

"It's clear – energy policy in the UK is fundamentally broken.

"Solutions to the current crisis have been suggested from across the House of Commons. There has been cross-party support on cutting VAT from energy bills, extending the Warm Home Discount Scheme and implementing a one-off windfall tax on the super-profits made by oil and gas companies.

"The list of sensible proposals goes on. So why does the government refuse to act?"


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