Campaigners call for Scottish Government action on missed fuel poverty target
Campaigners urge renewed effort after Scottish Government admits it will miss its target for abolishing fuel poverty
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Campaigners have urged the Scottish Government to “redouble its efforts to end the scourge of fuel poverty”, after ministers conceded they will not meet the statutory target set for November.
The Existing Homes Alliance, whose members include WWF Scotland, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and Energy Action Scotland, have proposed a plan they say will improve the energy efficiency of cold and draughty homes.
Measures include significantly increasing public investment in home energy efficiency, and for the forthcoming Programme for Government to set an objective for a national infrastructure programme that supports every home to reach at least an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band C by 2025.
The group say the latter would largely eliminate energy efficiency as a driver of fuel poverty, benefit 1.5million households, help reduce energy bills, cut the nation’s carbon emissions, reduce NHS costs of treating illnesses related to cold and damp homes and create up to 9,000 new jobs spread across Scotland.
Furthermore they are calling for ministers to publish a delayed consultation on the regulation of energy efficiency in the private sector, which they say would leverage private investment into tackling fuel poverty and help those in rented accommodation, where the energy efficiency of homes is lowest.
The Scottish Government previously said tackling fuel poverty was a “key priority”, yet the most recent figures showed there had been no progress in reducing the level of fuel poverty in Scotland from 2013 to 2014, with the rate remaining at around 35 per cent.
Alan Ferguson, chair of the Existing Homes Alliance, said: “It is a national shame that there are currently 845,000 households in Scotland living in fuel poverty, and that energy inefficient homes stop many of those from escaping that poverty.
“Households are forced to waste precious cash and carbon because their homes leak out the warm air.
“Investment in energy efficiency is a no-brainer, working alongside efforts to raise incomes and reduce energy costs.
“It will help lift people out of fuel poverty, stimulate the economy, create jobs and cut our climate change emissions.”
Scottish Government Minister for Local Government and Housing Kevin Stewart said that despite record public investment, the missed target is a result of factors beyond the control of Holyrood.
In a letter to Local Government and Communities Committee chair Bob Doris in July, Stewart said: “All of the increase in fuel poverty since the introduction of the fuel poverty target can be explained by above-inflation energy price increases which are regulated by the UK Government.
“Fuel poverty in 2014 would have been around 9.5 per cent (instead of nearly 35 per cent) if fuel prices had only risen in line with general inflation.”
Stewart added that the government will “consider recommendations from the Scottish Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force and Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group who are both due to issue final reports on their findings by the end of the calendar year.”
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An estimated 62 per cent of Scottish households live in homes below EPC band C for energy efficiency, according to Existing Homes Alliance data