Fuel Poverty On Islands Described As Horrific

The level of fuel poverty on the Isles of Scilly has been described as “horrific.”

Fuel poverty is defined by the Government as when a household needs to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel for heating, cooking and light.

Councillors at Wednesday’s Shadow Health and Wellbeing Committee heard from Amy Walker from Cornwall-based social enterprise, Community Energy Plus, who are launching their “Warm Me Up” campaign here.

Amy said fuel poverty is a huge problem on the islands, affecting people with heart, lung and circulatory problems and increasing the risk of falls in the elderly. And she said there is a real concern was that people are under-heating their homes in winter to save money.

Official figures from the Department for Energy and Climate Change show that Scilly has 23.7% of households in fuel poverty, amongst the highest 5% of local authorities in England.

Amy said her organisation has funding to help in areas like insulation and energy efficiency measures, but she needed the Council to tell her what islanders needed. CEP provides advice to households about how they can reduce fuel bills or keep their homes warmer. They can also guide people toward discounts and grants available for the work.

However, Amy said they’d run into problems in the past delivering insulation projects on the islands.

Dudley Mumford said the problem in Scilly was made worse by the higher cost of fuel here. Amy says fuel oil is around 53p per litre on the mainland but over 80p per litre here.

David Pearson pointed out that the “Decent Homes” programme had allowed the Council to improve insulation levels in the majority of their housing stock. And Richard McCarthy added that newer, housing association buildings were also very fuel-efficient.

But the Duchy of Cornwall was criticised for not keeping up with the other housing providers on the islands. Chris Savill said the Duchy have a responsibility to their tenants and they should try to discuss this with them.

Aisling Hick told us yesterday that the Council are happy to work with CEP, both from a climate change and health point of view.

She said if there is a big demand for insulation, CEP could bulk buy that and use local businesses to install it rather than relying on mainland companies.

They’ll also be putting together a joint questionnaire to find out exactly what people need from the Warm Me Up project here on the islands.

Duchy Land Steward, Chris Gregory, said he would encourage any tenants with concerns over insulation to speak to him.

He said the vast majority of houses they are responsible for where brought up to the new Government loft insulation standards in 2008 under the Warm Front programme.

In addition, as they continue on their programme of more substantial refurbishment on a property-by-property basis, it’s standard practice to provide additional insulation to walls and upgrade heating systems with more energy efficient units.

In some properties, Chris says they’re achieving thermal efficiencies many times greater than the guidelines.


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