The SNP has called on the UK Government to end the ‘discrimination and unfairness’ that exists within the UK’s energy market and introduce a universal network charge to ensure that rural communities are not penalised with higher costs simply because of where they live.
Ian Blackford, MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber – whose constituents face higher energy bills than other parts of the UK – raised the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions but Theresa May failed to offer any assurances over a universal network charge and simply said the UK Government is “looking at making sure that energy markets in the UK are indeed working properly”.
Blackford MP said: “Winter is a difficult time for many people but it is especially so for people in the Highlands and Islands who are penalised with higher energy costs because of where they live – despite living in an area with some of the harshest weather conditions in the UK.
“Across the UK there are 14 regional markets with different levels of network charges meaning that electricity distribution charges for the north of Scotland are 84% higher than the charges for London and the standard unit price is 2p a kw/hr more than in other parts of the UK.
“It’s true that 2p doesn’t sounds like much – but it is a premium of 15% for consumers in the north of Scotland.
“And in rural Scotland where households in off-gas areas rely on using domestic heating oil and solid fuel, costs are even higher with energy bills, on average, around £1000 more than the national average. Figures from Lochalsh and Skye energy advice service in my constituency suggest average total heating bills in Skye and Lochalsh are £2,218 a year.
“It is time the UK Government introduced a universal network charge and put an end to the discrimination and unfairness that exists within our energy market.”