Scottish Government accused of cutting its warm homes ambition

The Existing Homes Alliance has expressed concern that the Scottish Government is weakening its plans to make Scotland’s homes warm and energy efficient.

The group, whose members include the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), the Alliance of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers, and WWF Scotland, said the government’s latest Climate Change Plan has significantly weakened targets on warm homes.

In draft plans published last year, the government proposed cutting carbon emissions from homes by 75% by 2032. But the final plan has reduced that target to just 23%.

According to the Alliance, the plan also fails to provide a credible pathway to delivering low carbon heat for homes, particularly in the short term.

Lori McElroy, chair of the Existing Homes Alliance, said: “As Scotland shivers in the snow and freezing temperatures, we should all remember that around a quarter of the country’s households are living in fuel poverty – that’s 649,000 homes spending 10% or more of their income on heating. So it is extremely disappointing that the Scottish Government appears to be weakening its ambition on warm homes.

“The Climate Change Plan was an opportunity to set a blueprint for a better Scotland, where no-one suffers from the effects of a cold and draughty home, where the nation is insulated from an over reliance on gas, and where we could cut our carbon emissions for the benefit of everyone in Scotland and around the world.”

The Alliance said that warm homes are a matter of life and death for many in Scotland.

Lori McElroy added: “Poorly heated, damp and cold homes can pose significant health risks for people. In the winter of 2016/17, an additional 2,720 people died during the winter months, when compared to the average for the rest of the year. The World Health Organisation has in the past estimated that 30% of such deaths are attributable to cold homes.

“Today, we are repeating our call for a Scottish Government commitment to bringing all homes up to a good standard of energy efficiency by 2025. Our research shows that could save the NHS in Scotland up to £80m per year, by reducing the incidence of cold-related illnesses.”

The government’s forthcoming Warm Homes Bill will be an important test, the Alliance added.

Lori McElroy said: “The Warm Homes Bill is a unique opportunity to make our homes fit for the future. The Bill must set out how action on the new fuel poverty target will be monitored and reported on, but it must also set new ambitions to improve the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes.”