Ageing homes across Scotland could be in line for an upgrade after a national programme was announced to make them greener.
Capital Investment and Infrastructure Secretary Alex Neil announced today he wanted to start up a National Retrofit Scheme after accepting all of the recommendations made by an independent panel.
The independent Scottish Fuel Poverty Forum was set up last year in a bid to cut the numbers of people in Scotland who cannot afford to pay their heating bills and will make a full report this Autumn. As reported in Holyrood in May, about 900,000 households across Scotland are estimated to be in fuel poverty – spending more than 10 per cent of their income on energy costs.
Speaking in the parliament chamber Neil said: “The problem is a disgrace in an energy rich nation.
“I support all of the forum’s recommendations.
“Our building regulations in Scotland have the most demanding standards in the UK for housing. These are comparable with the best in Europe.
“But despite that we still have a major legacy in our existing stock of poor condition and fuel poverty.
“We must focus on the existing housing stock in order to tackle fuel poverty and achieve the milestone needed to achieve emissions targets.
“In the spending review this government showed its determination to tackle fuel poverty head-on.”
He said £200m a year could be devoted to the programme with involvement from energy companies.
But he insisted energy efficiency alone would not be enough to eradicate fuel poverty and said there needed to be more action to make energy firms cut prices.
But the Greens said this should have been set up before, having suggested the move as far back as 2009.
Patrick Harvie, Green co-convener said: “Ministers are playing catch up when they could have taken the sort of action advocated years ago by the Greens and now the Fuel Poverty Forum.
“The SNP Government has failed the most vulnerable in our society by not acting urgently, and the fuel poverty figures have grown steadily as a result.
“It is shameful to see that we now have over three quarters of a million Scottish households in fuel poverty.”
Forum chairman Professor David Sigsworth, said: “This is an interim report as there continues to be much work to be done to deliver focused support to households experiencing fuel poverty across Scotland.
“One of the forum’s main recommendations is to develop and deliver a national retrofit programme which will be proactive in offering assistance in areas of fuel poverty and other deprivation.
“At the same time, it will also be important to build on the good work of the current Energy Assistance Package to support those vulnerable and fuel poor households who might live outside the primary areas of fuel poverty.”