Consultation launched into fuel poverty reduction

fuel povertyThe Scottish Government has launched a public consultation to seek views on a new long-term strategy to tackle fuel poverty.

Running until February next year, the consultation document will seek opinions on, among other things, ambitious targets for fuel poverty reduction – with a revised definition recommended by an independent, expert review – and the timescales for meeting them.

An independent panel of four academic experts was established earlier this year to consider changes to how fuel poverty is defined, and recently published a paper presenting their findings. This followed the Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group’s conclusion that the current definition may be impeding efforts to target those most in need.

Responses to the consultation will inform the new strategy and the development of a Warm Homes Bill, due to be introduced in 2018, which will enshrine the proposed new fuel poverty target in legislation.

Announcing the consultation at the annual Energy Action Scotland conference in Crieff today, housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “We know that far too many people find themselves struggling with unaffordable energy costs, including the elderly, families with young children and those with serious medical conditions. This is unacceptable in a modern, progressive and compassionate country like ours.

“This is why we are now seeking views on a new long-term strategy which sets out ambitious targets to reduce fuel poverty. By lifting those experiencing fuel poverty into a better quality of life we can create a fair and more equal society.

“Scotland is one of only a handful of European countries to define fuel poverty and now we are taking an even bigger step. Our fuel poverty strategy and Warm Homes Bill will take a bolder and more focused approach to reducing fuel poverty.”

Director of Energy Action Scotland, Norman Kerr, added: “Energy Action Scotland welcomes this consultation on the fuel poverty strategy. As the national fuel poverty charity we are fortunate to be able to draw upon decades of experience and relationships within our national network of experts, in order to turn cold, damp houses into warm, dry homes.

“We are delighted to have the Minister launch the fuel poverty consultation at our conference and it is our aim that both will contribute to ending the blight of fuel poverty in Scotland. The Government should hear from as many groups and organisations as possible – this forthcoming strategy is too important not to have a voice in shaping.”