I’ve written before about the hardship that many who are off the gas grid face. For many that means heating has to be provided by unregulated fuels. In the main that’s heating oil, with some on biomass or LPG. It’s quite a large figure some 7% of households in Scotland are affected meaning it’s over 200,000 households. 5% for the former and 1% each for the latter. Many are in the north or rural parts, but they include large towns in areas such as the Borders. The rise in gas and electricity prices has been like nothing with that affecting heating oil in particular. Those areas already also have the highest rates of fuel poverty in Scotland.
But the injustice is worsening. Being unregulated means that OFGEM has no powers to act. The £400 payment to address past rising costs was available but the price cap of £2,500 recently announced doesn’t apply to them. Hearing rumours of paltry support, I put down parliamentary questions which detailed that the further support for these households will a measly £100.
That won’t even touch the sides of the householders heating oil tank and it’s nowhere near closing the gap on rising costs. There may be a few architect designed households with superb insulation and other gizmos from solar panelling with installed batteries for storage to electric heat pumps. More likely though it’ll be like Granny’s Heilan hame which won’t be well insulated at all or a council house with no additional energy providing devices.
It’ll often be granny herself who’ll be living there or someone on a low wage, pension or benefits which raises another problem. Even with that £100 you’ll be struggling as most suppliers insist on a minimum purchase of 500 litres before they’ll even visit. Of course, if you’re fortunate and can buy in bulk then the cost can be just under 90p a litre. But if you’re on a minimum order its more and that means its many hundreds of pounds.
This needs remedied and fast before winter comes. The real solution would be to cap the price or failing that massively increase the payment. Equally the Scottish Government should be insisting that suppliers do not insist on a minimum purchase and local authorities should be coordinating bulk buying not just for public sector agencies but their citizens.