Island families paying the price for Westminster failure

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil says island families are paying the price for Westminster failure – amid warnings energy bills will not return to 2021 levels until around 2030 at the earliest.

While the Ofgem energy price cap has today been reduced slightly to £2,074 a year for the typical household from July, energy prices will still be around double what they were in 2021 (£1042) and they are expected to rise again in January. The figure will be even higher for island residents which has one of the highest levels of fuel poverty in the UK.

The UK government has also withdrawn the £400 energy bill rebate for households, and household incomes are falling behind the UK’s soaring inflation – leaving families worse off than they were pre-pandemic.

Commenting, Angus MacNeil MP said: “Families in Na h-Eileanan an Iar are paying the price for Westminster failure, with the typical household energy bill double what it was in 2021 and wages falling behind soaring inflation – showing exactly why Scotland needs to escape Westminster control as an independent country.

“Scotland is an energy-rich country and it’s absurd the UK government is forcing families to pay through the nose for a resource we have in abundance, while it refuses to reinvest the huge profits it is raking in from Scotland’s north sea oil and gas.

“Westminster should be using these profits to give families in Scotland an energy bill rebate – and it should match the ambition of progressive SNP government policies, like the £25 a week Scottish Child Payment, to help families struggling with the cost of living.

“The SNP is the only party in Scotland offering a real alternative to the damaging policies of the Tories and pro-Brexit Labour Party – and only a vote for the SNP at the next election can deliver the real change Scotland needs.”

Following the Ofgem announcement, Cornwall Insight warned “Despite the cap falling from the sky-high prices of the past two years, the figure remains over £1,000 per year more than the price cap levels seen prior to the pandemic… We do not currently expect bills to return to pre-2020 levels before the end of the decade at the earliest.”

Campaigners from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition also warned “People now face many more months with bills remaining stubbornly high. This will see them continue to use up their savings for everyday items, run up credit card bills, fall into debt with energy firms or turn to food banks as the cost of living crisis deepens.”

Isles MP visits new Hebridean Mountain Rescue base

Isles MP visits new Hebridean Mountain Rescue base

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil was delighted to meet with Hebrides Mountain Rescue Team in Stornoway on Thursday and visit the new purpose-built base centre.

The team undertake training once a month and told Mr MacNeil about the recent advances in equipment including training for the future use of drones in search operations.
During his trip to the station, which will be opened officially today (Friday), Angus tried out equipment that allows the team to identify signs of life in the dark or difficult scenarios.

Mr MacNeil said: “It was great to see the new Hebrides Mountain Rescue Base in Stornoway. The team do invaluable work voluntarily to support emergency services right across the Western Isles. Thanks very much to Charlie and Robert for giving me a tour of the new base.”

Robert Sinclair and Charlie Greenwood from Hebrides Mountain Rescue Team with Angus MacNeil MP

Stornoway Deep Water Terminal

It was interesting to visit The Stornoway Deep Water Terminal yesterday. A lot of Civil Engineering work to provide a quay with 10m depth at low tide!! 

This is an incredibly impressive project, and it was great to see the progress that has been made. 

My thanks to Alex Macleod, Chief Executive at Stornoway Port Authority and John Porteous, Engineering Consultant at Wallace Stone for taking the time to show me around the site. 

I look forward to seeing continued progress and I wish everyone involved every success.

HMRC delays in paying Rural Fuel Duty Relief to fuel retailers is unacceptable, says Isles MP

HMRC delays in paying Rural Fuel Duty Relief to fuel retailers is unacceptable, says Isles MP

Isles MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil has contacted HMRC on behalf of local fuel retailer, Gordon Diesel Services Ltd who are experiencing ongoing delays in receiving their monthly Rural Fuel Duty rebate.

Rural Fuel Duty Relief gives support to motorists by compensating fuel retailers in some rural areas with high road fuel prices and fuel retailers need to submit a claim each month.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“HMRC state that they aim to process claims 30 days from its receipt and it is frustrating to hear that Gordon Diesel Service Ltd are having difficulties in getting their fuel rebate claims paid monthly.

“Fuel retailers have enough to do without having to chase HMRC for money due to them.  We cannot have a situation where businesses are struggling because of delays within HMRC.

“Since contacting HMRC yesterday for Gordon Diesel Services Ltd, I understand that other fuel retailers are also affected by this delay.  I am keen to hear from any other fuel retailers who are impacted by this, so please get in touch either by email at or by calling my office on 01851 702272.”


Monumental failure from Historic Scotland, says Isles MP

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil met today with Historic Scotland to discuss the reopening of Kisimul Castle in advance of the Homecoming events planned for June where many descendants families of those who left for Canada in 1923 are expected in Barra.

Commenting Angus Brendan MacNeil said:

“I am extremely disappointed and in fact angry with Historic Scotland who have made absolutely no progress on Kisimul Castle since they met with the community last summer in Castlebay Hall. They were told at this meeting about the importance of the Castle being available for the Homecoming events taking place in June 2023. A year later and no work at all has been carried out on the Castle.

“There has been no urgency, no care or thought from Historic Scotland about the community or the people coming to visit. For some descendants of families who left in 1923 it will be a once in a lifetime trip and with weeks to go before the Homecoming events, Historic Scotland are still passive and careless about the Castle.

“Having bureaucrats over to measure or look at things with no greater intention than snail’s pace progress is a slap in the face from Historic Scotland to the island and those wishing to visit the Castle.

“I doubt my words, or anyone else’s words will have much effect in encouraging Historic Scotland to carry out work in the next few weeks before the Homecoming. I asked if it was possible for people to at least enter the courtyard but in a metaphoric shrug of the shoulders was told that will not be allowed either.

“There will be a lot of disappointment felt by those visiting next month because of the lack of care and professionalism from Historic Scotland.”


Firm ‘No’ to HPMAs must be respected says Isles MP

Having received a response to his previous correspondence with Mairi McAllan, Minister for Environment and Net Zero, Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil is seeking clarification from the Scottish Government on their position that no HPMAs will be forced on communities who do not want them.

Mr MacNeil has spoken out many times in opposition to the proposals for HPMAs and last month he wrote to First Minister, Humza Yousaf, and Minister for Environment and Net Zero, Mairi McAllan, to stress the strength of feeling against HPMAs in Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“I was encouraged by the first half of the letter from Mairi McAllan which stated that HPMAs would not be designated without community engagement. However, the second half of the letter, stated that ‘sites will be situated across the whole of sea area’, and they ‘will be based on the best available evidence’ along with ‘further consultation when sites are selected’. This would seem to be incompatible because from what I understand no community wants HPMAs. Therefore, how can sites be designated without overriding the wishes of communities?

“Given that HPMAs are unwanted in the community, I am asking the Government to clarify that there will be no HPMAs from the 200 miles west of the Hebrides to the Minches.  If the Government’s word means anything, this must be categorically declared now, otherwise, the legislation remains a dangerous trojan horse.”


Tory failure to tackle sky-high inflation which hits the islands hardest

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil says Rishi Sunak is ‘utterly failing’ to bring down inflation as it remains at a sky-high level hitting Na h-Eileanan an Iar even harder than other regions.

The latest figures from the ONS show inflation is still at an extortionately high rate of 10.1%. This is being driven by food inflation with the price of milk increasing by more than a third and ready meals increasing by a fifth.

Food prices in Na h-Eileanan an Iar are even higher than the UK average due to a number of factors, such as additional transportation on top of inflation rises.

Mr MacNeil has written to the constituency’s main supermarket, Co-op, for an explanation of the higher prices compared to other supermarkets. The Co-op stated the consistent pricing structure was offered across all stores regardless of the additional business costs incurred operating in remote locations.

The current inflation rise leaves the UK with one of the highest inflation rates amongst major economies, with Italy’s inflation rate at 8.2%, Germany 7.8%, France 6.6% and the USA 5.3%.

Inflation rates have stayed higher than previously predicted as economists expected it to drop below 10%. Rishi Sunak pledged at the start of this year to half inflation by the end of 2023.

Mr MacNeil said: “Households in Na h-Eileanan an Iar are still facing sky-high shopping and energy bills and it is down to Rishi Sunak and his Tory UK government as they are utterly failing to keep inflation under control.

“It is the Tories who caused this cost-of-living crisis and now they are doing next to nothing to ease the pressure on household budgets.

“Inflation in the UK remains high compared to other major European nations because of Brexit. Combined with the UK predicted to have the worst growth of any major economy, the UK is on a downward spiral all at the hands of Brexit.

“There will be no cause for comfort from a pro-Brexit Labour government either as they would keep Scotland out of the European Union, a market seven times the size of the UK’s, and the economic turmoil would continue.

“That is why the only way Scotland can escape the economic incompetence of Westminster control is by becoming an independent country and giving the people the option of re-joining the European Union.”

Isles MP – last-minute call to submit to HPMA consultation 

Angus Brendan MacNeil SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar is calling on constituents to respond to the Scottish Government consultation on the Highly Protected Marine Areas which closes on Monday 17th April. The consultation is available online on the Scottish Government website or people can simply submit their views by emailing: and completing the Respondent Information Form, which is also available on the Scottish Government consultation website.

Commenting Angus B MacNeil said:

“I would urge people to respond to the HPMA consultation this weekend. Many people have been in touch in the last few weeks about this ill-conceived idea. I’d encourage people to make sure their views are heard, even if it is a line or two in an email to the consultation. The Greens in Government should especially listen to the views of people in rural areas. 

“This policy is so early in the process, it is a consultation and not law and therefore we still have the ability to change it by letting our views be known. If the Greens weren’t in the Bute House Agreement we could probably change this policy quite easily. The Bute House Agreement is obviously proving problematic for many of us. 

“As I have said many times this policy should be withdrawn and scrapped, and I have previously made this known to the First Minister and the Minister for Environment and Land Reform.

“A huge well done to the Scottish band, Skipinnish, who have released a protest song, ‘The Clearances Again’, highlighting once again the strength of feeling against HPMA proposals.

“The online link to the consultation is a long and complex number of questions so I would encourage people to submit their views via the email address and complete the Respondent Information Form.”



MacNeil calls on islanders to help ditch the HPMA

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has called on people to respond to the Highly Protected Marine Areas consultation by the Scottish Government which is open until Monday 17th April. The consultation is available on the Scottish Government website. Submissions can be completed online or hard copy. However, people can also submit their views by emailing: and completing the Respondent Information Form, which is also available on the Scottish Government consultation website. 

Commenting Angus MacNeil said:

“I’d strongly encourage people to respond to the HPMA consultation before it closes on April 17th. The online link to the consultation is a long and complex number of questions so I would encourage people to submit their views via the email address and complete the Respondent Information Form.

“I’ve spoken to many people across the constituency in recent weeks and the level of concern is strongly felt. People are worried about their livelihoods, and I have yet to meet anyone in favour of the proposal. It is important that these views are known to the consultation, even if it is a line or two submitted saying that the proposal should be ditched. 

“HPMA is an ill-conceived idea, and I will certainly be making my views known to the consultation. The policy should be withdrawn and scrapped, as I have previously said when writing to the First Minister and the Minister for Environment and Land Reform.” 


MacNeil – islanders say they won’t cooperate with dentistry “witch-hunt”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has again called on NHS Western Isles to quickly resolve the situation with dental services on the Isle of Barra. In the latest development, the Scottish Dental Reference Service wants people to visit the dental surgery to have work checked on their teeth, in the meantime people are waiting months for delayed appointments. Many who have received letters say they will not cooperate with what they are calling a “witch-hunt.”

Commenting Angus MacNeil said:

“The Barra dentist has given over 25 years excellent service to the island, and he is well respected.  However, he is currently not working as he is going through a disciplinary process with NHS Western Isles.  The process is dragging out and the latest is that, for seemingly the first time ever, people are getting letters, not for dental work, but a type of survey to check work  – that has been done in the past and people are happy with – is okay.  

“Meanwhile other people cannot get seen and all those with months postponed appointments due to this debacle have not been contacted. Patient care does not seem to be the first concern at present. To say people are annoyed, is an understatement.  Many have contacted me livid and stating they will not be cooperating with what they are calling a “witch-hunt” on a very respected dentist that they want to see back at work.

“My opinion is that whatever is going on in this silly topsy turvy carry-on, the NHS Western Isles has lost sight of what dental clinics should be doing, instead we have an investigator, judge, jury and executioner scenario on a respected dentist.  For many people this circus has to come to an end and back to the job of sorting teeth – what the job is actually about when the silly games stop.

“What was meant to take 2 months, is still ongoing and an urgency to get things sorted doesn’t seem to be there, these latest letters of investigation will add months to the circus. Everyone wants a speedy resolution, and people are worried that NHS Western Isles will drive the dentist away and discourage others from coming.  The Barra dental situation is also affecting Uist, as the dentist can of course no longer go to Uist and they are already a dentist down in apparently another long saga taking years, as well losing geographical spread of dental services in Uist..

“To add to the fury, people are needlessly asked to travel as far as Lochmaddy at times for dental services, in the case of teachers going to appointments, this means extra cost to education budgets looking for a supply teacher as an hour for a dental process becomes a day’s travel.  Given we have an excellent dentist sitting on the island twiddling his thumbs with the stress of a bureaucracy at full force against him. This seems ridiculous as well as unfair.

“People would much prefer that they worked to get our excellent dentist back to work full-time.

Whatever issues NHS Western Isles have, they should work to resolve these issues quickly.  We wouldn’t like to be in the same situation that we had with our GP, who had enough of NHS Western Isles and moved on. Locum GPs are currently employed on Barra at very great expense, adding additional pressures on NHS Western Isles budgets affecting everybody in the islands ultimately.

“There has to be a better way. We all want to see the dentist back at work.  I will be writing to the Health Minister on this and relaying the concern of many that there is a “witch-hunt” going on.”