Call for action to rid Scotland of its 1.5 million cold homes

A map showing the highest concentrations of cold homes across Scotland
A map showing the highest concentrations of cold homes across Scotland

Political parties have been urged to commit to ridding Scotland of the “scourge” of cold homes by 2025 after new data revealed that there are up to 1.5 million cold homes in the country.

The Existing Homes Alliance, whose members include WWF Scotland, Changeworks and the National Insulation Association, made the call following the publication of the newly compiled data which showed that an estimated 1,482,000 households in Scotland currently live in a home that is “unhealthily cold”, i.e. one that is rated below a C EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) standard.

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that, as a minimum, properties should be raised to an EPC band C and ideally to a band B to help reduce the risk of death and ill health associated with living in a cold home. This is 62 per cent of households in Scotland.

The figures show that the households in the lowest energy efficiency bands are more likely to be living in fuel poverty.

According to the data there are tens of thousands of cold homes in every single parliamentary constituency. There are seven constituencies in Scotland where more than 75 per cent of households are estimated to be living in a cold home: Na h-Eileanan an Iar; Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch; Caithness, Sutherland and Ross; Shetland Islands; Orkney Islands; Argyll and Bute; Banffshire and Buchan Coast.

There are only three constituencies in Scotland where more than half of households are living in a home of an “acceptable” energy efficiency rating (i.e. at least a C EPC standard): Glasgow Shettleston; Edinburgh Northern and Leith; Glasgow Anniesland.

Commenting on the new figures, Alan Ferguson, chair of the Existing Homes Alliance, said: “These figures show that if the next Scottish Government set an objective to bring all homes in Scotland to at least a ‘C’ energy performance standard by 2025, they could end the scourge of cold homes currently affecting thousands of households in every single parliamentary constituency across Scotland.

“Not only did more than 50 business and civil society organisations welcome the cross-party commitment to making improved energy efficiency for Scotland’s homes a National Infrastructure Priority, but the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence suggested a ‘C’ standard  is the minimum energy efficiency level to avoid the risk of death and ill-health associated with cold homes.”

Dr Sam Gardner, head of policy at WWF Scotland, said: “Heating Scotland’s buildings accounts for over half of our climate change emissions. Ensuring every home reaches a C Energy performance standard by 2025 is the minimum level of ambition required to allow our climate change targets to be met. A political commitment that no-one should live in a hard-to-heat, draughty home would be good for millions of households, and would drastically reduce emissions too.”

Wilson Shaw, chair of the National Insulation Association in Scotland, added: “A commitment from the next Scottish Government to ensure all homes in Scotland reach a minimum energy efficiency standard could create up to 9,000 jobs a year. Today’s figures show that such a commitment would benefit thousands of households across every single Scottish parliamentary constituency. Few other capital investments could make such a difference, and such a commitment would give the energy efficiency industry the confidence to invest for the longer term.”

Responding to figures, Mary Taylor, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), said: “These figures illustrate the serious challenge of tackling fuel poverty in Scotland and highlight the need for greater investment in the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes.

“The SFHA is calling for Scotland’s next government to set a target that all homes should have a minimum category C energy efficiency rating by 2025. Setting this standard and, crucially, providing the necessary funding to support it, would reduce fuel poverty and improve the health and wellbeing of people currently living in cold, damp homes. The investment in insulation and other measures would also create jobs in communities across Scotland.

“While research shows that housing associations have the most energy efficient homes in Scotland, their tenants are as likely to be in fuel poverty as the average Scottish household, as housing association tenants are, on average, on lower incomes. It is therefore vital that social landlords receive support to invest in the energy efficiency of their homes, particularly hard to treat homes, in order to protect their tenants from the impacts of rising fuel prices and the effects of fuel poverty.”

Cold Homes in each of Scotland’s Parliamentary Constituencies

Scottish Parliamentary Constituency Number of ‘cold homes’, EPC D-G Proportion of ‘cold homes’ EPC D-G (%) Estimated proportion households in Fuel Poverty (%)
Aberdeen Central 23,000 55% 29%
Aberdeen Donside 19,900 57% 26%
Aberdeen South + North Kincardine 20,500 63% 30%
Aberdeenshire East 21,100 66% 41%
Aberdeenshire West 20,000 67% 43%
Airdrie and Shotts 18,400 62% 35%
Almond Valley 20,800 60% 25%
Angus North and Mearns 20,300 65% 40%
Angus South 21,500 68% 40%
Argyll and Bute 22,800 78% 59%
Ayr 23,600 66% 38%
Banffshire and Buchan Coast 25,000 77% 46%
Caithness, Sutherland and Ross 26,100 81% 63%
Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley 22,300 67% 44%
Clackmannanshire and Dunblane 17,100 60% 33%
Clydebank and Milngavie 17,900 56% 34%
Clydesdale 22,900 73% 47%
Coatbridge and Chryston 17,400 58% 31%
Cowdenbeath 20,800 67% 33%
Cumbernauld and Kilsyth 17,800 64% 31%
Cunninghame North 22,600 68% 43%
Cunninghame South 18,600 63% 35%
Dumbarton 20,600 64% 36%
Dumfriesshire 25,800 75% 48%
Dundee City East 21,100 61% 38%
Dundee City West 19,500 57% 37%
Dunfermline 19,600 62% 30%
East Kilbride 19,700 60% 29%
East Lothian 20,500 64% 36%
Eastwood 19,900 75% 36%
Edinburgh Central 24,400 59% 30%
Edinburgh Eastern 20,600 55% 34%
Edinburgh Northern and Leith 19,700 44% 28%
Edinburgh Pentlands 18,000 58% 33%
Edinburgh Southern 20,100 57% 29%
Edinburgh Western 20,800 63% 32%
Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire 22,900 72% 47%
Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse 20,800 64% 36%
Inverness and Nairn 24,300 64% 38%
Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley 21,100 58% 34%
Kirkcaldy 22,800 63% 38%
Linlithgow 22,700 58% 31%
Mid Fife and Glenrothes 20,300 66% 33%
Midlothian North and Musselburgh 19,100 57% 30%
Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale 21,600 65% 37%
Moray 23,800 71% 43%
Motherwell and Wishaw 18,600 56% 34%
Na h-Eileanan an Iar 11,000 88% 74%
North East Fife 21,400 70% 39%
Orkney Islands 7,700 79% 55%
Paisley 21,000 60% 39%
Perthshire North 22,100 69% 46%
Perthshire South and Kinross-shire 22,200 67% 39%
Renfrewshire North and West 19,100 67% 33%
Renfrewshire South 19,500 64% 37%
Rutherglen 20,500 59% 35%
Shetland Islands 8,000 80% 50%
Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch 26,000 81% 61%
Stirling 18,100 57% 37%
Strathkelvin and Bearsden 23,300 72% 33%
Uddingston and Bellshill 18,500 58% 31%

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