THERE is a correlation between being off the gas grid and fuel poverty.

The situation is worse in Scotland than the rest of the UK. Here, 19 per cent are off grid, nearly one in five, and over half a million households. It’s 15 per cent in the UK, the same in England and Wales. This is even though much of the UK’s gas resource is off Scotland’s coast and a great deal comes ashore at St Fergus in Aberdeenshire.

Despite that, Shetland and Orkney are entirely devoid of it, as are 42 per cent of homes in Aberdeenshire. Other rural parts, whether Argyll and Bute or Dumfries and Galloway, are similarly denied.

But it also impacts on urban areas, where Glasgow and Dundee have nearly 20 per cent of homes off the gas grid. That is largely due to multi-storey flats where gas cannot be provided.

East Lothian is not amongst the worst affected parts. But 13 per cent of households are off grid, equating to 6,000 homes, largely in the villages. Of course, it doesn’t mean that every home there is in fuel poverty. But it does mean that residents there have the increased challenges facing all those off the gas grid wherever situated.

That’s because when you are off the gas grid you are dependent on other fuel systems. They are often more expensive to run, such as electric heating systems that cause so much fuel poverty in urban flats, or on unregulated fuels that rural parts depend on like heating oil, LNG or biomass.

The cost of latter fuels has risen even more than gas and electricity, and the hardship is often compounded by requiring to purchase substantial minimum amounts.

The solution is to regulate those fuels. Moreover, those areas and households dependent on old and expensive electric heating systems must be prioritised for improved insulation, fitting of efficient heating systems and financial support.

It is perverse that Scots go without gas and face fuel poverty when the gas is off our coast and corporates make fortunes.