Shetlanders ‘will need to earn more than £100,000 to avoid fuel poverty’ as energy bills soar

·2-min read
Shetland faces spiralling fuel costs  (PA Archive)
Shetland faces spiralling fuel costs (PA Archive)

Around 96% of households in the Shetland Islands are expected to be plunged into fuel poverty – and local leaders say the UK government must step in to help.

An analysis by the Shetland Islands Council suggests households would need to bring in £104,000 a year to avoid fuel poverty, when a household spends ten or more per cent of their household income on energy costs.

The figures also show a household would need to bring in £104,000 a year to avoid fuel poverty.

By April, it is estimated that the average energy cost per year for a household in Shetland will be £10,300 – around double that of the UK.

Council leader Emma Macdonald has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi to lay out the stark predictions for household energy costs for those living in Shetland.

She said: “Our islands have been at the heart of oil and gas activity for over forty years, yet our people have not seen the benefits of that in terms of a lower cost of fuel.

“Shetland has contributed, and will continue to contribute, significantly to UK energy exports, and yet people in our communities will struggle to heat their homes in the coming year.

Council leader Emma Macdonald has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Shetland Islands Council)
Council leader Emma Macdonald has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Shetland Islands Council)

“This is particularly ironic, given the continued development of offshore and onshore renewable energy production around Shetland.

“We are calling for UK government support to enable host communities to secure long-term community benefit arrangements, which could include access to low-cost energy for islanders. But we also need immediate government help to address rising energy costs, which will have such a damaging impact on those who live in Shetland.”

Statistics show that, even under normal circumstances, the cost of living in Shetland is anything from 20-65% higher than the UK average.

Shetland’s significantly colder climate, coupled with the risk of poor insulation and lack of availability of cheaper energy options like mains gas, further compounds the effects on its island communities of the cost of living crisis, the council said.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “We know the pressures people in Shetland and across the UK are facing with rising costs, which is why we have continually taken action to help households by phasing in £37 billion worth of support.

“This includes a £400 discount on energy bills over winter and eight million of the most vulnerable households will see £1,200 extra support.

“We also protect households and businesses in the North of Scotland, including Shetland, by providing around £90m every year to reduce electricity distribution charges in that region. This is on top of the extra £82 million we provided to the Scottish Government to help vulnerable families across Scotland at their discretion.”