Existing Homes Alliance leads 50 organisations in call for real Warm Homes Bill

The Scottish Government is in danger of failing to deliver a real Warm Homes Bill for Scotland, a group of 50 civil society and business organisations has warned.

In a joint statement issued today the group calls on ministers and MSPs to create a law that will end fuel poverty, create new jobs and investment, and tackle climate change.

The Warm Homes Bill was promised in the SNP manifesto for the last Holyrood elections, and has broad cross-party support. But at the moment, ministers have only committed to bringing in a Fuel Poverty Bill.

The group - led by the Existing Homes Alliance - says that bill is too narrowly focused and fear that the government will miss a “once in a generation” opportunity to end the scandal of Scotland’s cold, damp homes.

Alliance chair Lori McElroy said: “More than a quarter of Scottish households are still living in fuel poverty – the same proportion who faced cold homes a decade ago – and over a million homes fall below the energy efficiency standard needed for our health. All political parties agree this is unacceptable in a modern, wealthy country. The promised Warm Homes Bill represented a once in a generation opportunity for change.

“But the Scottish Government is in danger of failing to grasp that opportunity. The proposed Fuel Poverty Bill is far too narrow, focused just on creating a new definition of fuel poverty and setting new fuel poverty targets. This is incredibly important, but we can do so much more. So today we are calling on the Scottish Government and all MSPs to ensure that Scotland gets the Warm Homes Bill it was promised and that it deserves.”

The 50 groups who signed the joint statement include Unite and Unison, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Nursing, Scottish Directors of Public Health, Shelter, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers, WWF Scotland, Friends of the Earth Scotland, and business organisations, including the Federation of Master Builders and the National Insulation Association. It also includes Age Scotland, the British Lung Foundation Scotland, the Poverty Alliance, Citizens Advice Scotland, and energy groups such as Energy Action Scotland and the Energy Savings Trust.

Lori McElroy added: “It is not often that such a wide range of voices from across Scotland come together in such a powerful way. There is a broad, growing consensus across society, business, and among politicians that we need to take real action on fuel poverty and energy efficiency.

“Bringing Scotland’s homes up to a standard of energy efficiency will tackle fuel poverty and climate change, reduce ill-health, improve well-being, reduce inequalities, and create and sustain jobs across Scotland. It is quite simply one of the best investments that the Scottish Government could make.

“The Warm Homes Bill should provide a strong legal foundation not just for the new Fuel Poverty Strategy, but also for the government’s new Energy Efficient Scotland programme. It should include long-term targets for energy performance with clear time-scales - giving industry, home-owners and landlords the certainty to invest. It should remove barriers and creative incentives for installing energy efficiency and low-carbon heat in homes, realising their full potential.

“It should set robust quality standards and consumer protection measures. And it should ensure that everyone can benefit from affordable heat and energy in all parts of Scotland, regardless of geography, tenancy, housing type, or income.

“We urge the Scottish Government and politicians of all parties to seize this opportunity.”

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