Survey Shows Two Thirds Of Islanders Worried About Fuel Costs

hugh town from BuzzaThe first survey to look at fuel poverty on the islands has shown that 62% of households are “very concerned” about energy costs.

Amy Walker from Cornwall-based Community Energy Plus told members of Wednesday’s Health and Wellbeing Board that around 200 out of a total of 1200 households responded to the questionnaire that went out to all homes in Scilly earlier this year.

But while people worried about the high price of fuel, the results show that Scillonians are actually spending around the same or less than people on the mainland.

The national average is £1,342 per year.

Amy said that could be due to our milder climate, although it could also mean that people aren’t heating their properties adequately.

Four households spent over £3,000 a year, and St Agnes councillor Richard McCarthy complained that it costs £2,000 a year just to run his oil-fired AGA.

Richard says 20% of residents are reliant on oil for heating and off-islanders have to add extra costs for transport.

66% of respondents supplemented their main heating source, by using other forms such as coal or wood, just to stay comfortably warm.

And that could put the health of vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, at risk.

Cllr Christine Savill said it was important to communicate to older residents that they need to keep warm even if it costs more.

She says when the prices go up, they turn down the heating.

“It’s the way that generation were brought up,” she said.

Amy suggested that the Council should try to get funding for schemes to improve energy efficiency on the islands.

Only 8% of the properties surveyed had loft insulation at or above the recommended level.

She’s been assured that all Duchy homes were meeting the requirements.

Aisling Hick said it was “outrageous” that the government’s Warm Front programme, which ran for several years and provided access to cheaper energy-saving measures, never actually came to Scilly.

The retailers and fitters involved wouldn’t provide the services on the islands.

Chairman Amanda Martin agreed, saying, “when you put in a Scilly postcode, so many things magically become unavailable to us.”

Amy felt that Scilly’s high reliance on electricity for heating and our low levels of insulation was unique.

That could provide a good PR opportunity for a utility company to stump up the cash to make improvements, she suggested.

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