Affordable warmth charity THAW Orkney is calling on all candidates in the forthcoming Orkney Islands Council election to back its manifesto for affordable warmth in Orkney.
The charity says that the ten-point plan, which is being sent to all candidates this week, will need cross-community support to ensure that the pace of energy efficiency work is increased and reaches the homes that need most urgent work.
At the same time wider financial and practical support needs to be offered to struggling households, it says.
THAW Orkney manager Robert Leslie said:
“Given the energy price cap rise of 1st April, and another significant rise forecast for October 2022, urgent action is needed to help Orkney households struggling to have enough energy with which to heat their homes, give them hot water, and cook their meals.
“I have been heartened by recent offers of partnership work and collaborations with other organisations in Orkney that are being planned so that the Third Sector and Statutory Sector can work effectively together to address this cost of living crisis.
“What we are seeing is not fuel, food or child poverty – it is folk making increasingly difficult choices among rocketing prices. We urgently need a poverty strategy and action plan for Orkney and this should be at the top of the ‘To Do’ list for every council candidate.”
THAW Orkney, which receives its main funding from the British Gas Energy Trust, and The Robertson Trust, has seen record demand for its services this winter, including almost £120,000 in emergency electricity vouchers and fuel costs.
THAW Orkney’s 10 Steps to tackle fuel poverty in Orkney are to:
- Improve and accelerate energy efficiency work by supporting the achievement of new standards for all tenures, including through the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH) and emergency housing, and the new standards in the private-rented and owner-occupied sectors.
- Develop and deliver a local area-based scheme on an island-by-island ‘worst first’ basis that will see ‘end-to-end’ support from initial advice through to quality assurance of 100% of installations.
- Create a gap-funding grant scheme for low-income households to install energy efficiency measures through approved schemes.
- Collaborate with or promote the Hi-Scot Credit Union to offer loans to households to fund installations where grants are unavailable/don’t fully fund measures.
- Work with landlords to require that, where there is a change in tenancy after 1 April 2022, the energy efficiency of the property will require to be improved.
- Ensure the availability of advice and support to householders, including household checks and bespoke advice on ways to save energy and improve access to affordable energy, including by switching (although restricted at moment).
- Maximise incomes, through increasing the availability of low carbon jobs in local communities and addressing poverty and inequalities through actions set out in the Fairer Scotland Action Plan, such as encouraging benefits take-up, and investigate living income/minimum income/income support developed within remote/flexible/part-time working prevalent in Orkney.
- Promote education in life skills, batch cooking, provision of a cook book for low-cost but nutritious meals for slow cooker/microwave – investigate a role for community hubs in this, along with restarting ‘Blether’ groups.
- Introduce energy-inclusive rents from social sector landlords – takes away prepayment meter issue.
- Capitalise on Orkney’s place at the centre of renewable energy and energy management innovation and how it offers the opportunity to take an unique approach to the resolution of existing fuel poverty issues and perhaps even the elimination of fuel poverty in Orkney, by increasing access to affordable energy based on community ownership and direction of distribution grid/renewables/storage/district heating focussed on direct, subsidised provision of energy.
You can download a copy of the THAW Orkney manifesto here :
Elections to Orkney Islands Council take place on Thursday 5th May. Anyone aged 16 or over that day, resident in Orkney and registered to vote, will be able to vote. You can register to vote between now and Monday 18 April. Anyone registered to vote but not listed as a postal voter can apply to vote by post which must be returned by 5pm on Tuesday 19 April, or sooner.
The candidates are: