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Highland Lib Dem MP calls on UK government to take urgent action as heating oil prices double, sparking warnings more households will face fuel poverty

By Val Sweeney

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MP Jamie Stone says the UK government must take action after heating oil costs soared.
MP Jamie Stone says the UK government must take action after heating oil costs soared.

The doubling of domestic heating oil prices in just two weeks has prompted calls for the UK government to take urgent action.

Lib Dem MPs, including Jamie Stone, the representative for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, have launched a campaign calling for a price cap to be introduced on heating oil as people are forced to choose between eating or heating.

It comes as Energy Action Scotland has also warned rising energy prices next month are set to see 47 per cent of households in the Highlands pushed into fuel poverty.

Mr Stone and other colleagues representing UK rural constituencies have written to the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Kwasi Kwarteng saying while consumers heating their homes using gas or electricity have some protection from price rises under Ofgem’s energy price cap, there is no financial protection in place for the 1.5 million off-grid households which rely on heating oil.

They highlighted that the price per litre of heating oil surged from 66.74p on February 24 to 148.25p on March 9 – a 122 per cent increase in a fortnight.

“From Shetland to Somerset, off-grid households across the UK are seeing astronomical rises in the price of heating oil, with absolutely no financial protections in place,” Mr Stone said.

“Millions of predominantly rural households have been callously forgotten by this Tory government.

“People are already being forced to choose between heating or eating.

“Ministers must urgently instruct Ofgem to extend the energy price cap to heating oil to prevent hundreds of thousands of households from being plunged into fuel poverty.”

About four million UK households are not connected to the gas grid, with 1.5 million of those homes relying on heating oil.

The letter states: “As rural MPs we are all too aware of the many additional day-to-day costs that our constituents face compared to their urban counterparts.

“It is indefensible that they are now facing even steeper bills as a result of being forgotten about by the UK government.

“While we recognise that costs are rising across society at this time, it is clear that off-grid households are suffering disproportionately because they have not received equal treatment from the government.

“They must be afforded equal protection from these devastating increases.”

As part of our End The Chill campaign, the Courier has been highlighting the issues around fuel poverty.

The Highlands is already one of the worst affected regions in Scotland with 33 per cent of all households currently living in fuel poverty. Only the Western Isles fares worse among all 32 Scottish local authorities.

Rising energy prices could see 47 per cent of Highland homes pushed into fuel poverty

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