Gillian Campbell: Proposals for energy efficiency and heat standards welcome and must be affordable to all

Gillian Campbell: Proposals for energy efficiency and heat standards welcome and must be affordable to all

Gillian Campbell

In response to this week’s Programme for Government, Gillian Campbell from the Existing Homes Alliance calls for the Scottish Government to develop a package of financial and fiscal measures to accompany the new Heat in Buildings Bill.

This week’s Programme for Government included a welcome commitment to consult on new heating and energy efficiency regulations in a Heat in Buildings Bill. This Bill must find a place in this year’s legislative programme to give certainty to homeowners, landlords and businesses. It must be accompanied by a package of support, so it is affordable to all.

These regulations will help ensure Scotland’s homes are warm and more affordable to heat. With homes accounting for around a fifth of Scotland’s carbon emissions, they are key to meeting climate change targets. They will help homeowners and landlords understand what they need to do to improve their homes, and supply chains will benefit from a reliable and growing pipeline of work, enabling them to invest in new jobs right across the country.

Alongside regulations, we need a new package of financial support tailored to suit different circumstances. We already have generous Scottish Government funded grants and loans (with higher rates for rural areas) available through Home Energy Scotland, but these won’t (and shouldn’t) cover the whole cost of switching Scotland’s homes to clean heat.

When public funds are scarce, they need to be focused on ensuring those in or at risk of fuel poverty are fully funded to meet new standards – this means expanding Scotland’s fuel poverty programme, Warmer Homes Scotland.

We also need affordable and appealing financial products and fiscal incentives that can support homeowners to invest in their homes.

Regulations will increase demand for existing and new financial products and services provided by banks and energy companies, but the Scottish Government needs to deploy other measures.

The Existing Homes Alliance has just published research by Energy Saving Trust which identifies several measures that could be taken forward.

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and Council Tax could be used to incentivise and reward investment in energy efficiency through applying discounts and exemptions.

Property Linked Finance can reduce or eliminate the upfront cost of upgrading homes by spreading payments over many years, with repayment obligations transferring to new owners on the sale of a property. Energy bill savings generated through improved energy efficiency should cover monthly financing repayments, meaning no negative impact on household budgets.

Supporting councils or housing associations to develop large-scale, place-based retrofit projects can attract substantial private investment, reducing costs for homeowners and landlords.

The commitment to introduce regulations is welcome. Now the Scottish Government must commit to a new financial package, which complements existing support, so the new standards are achievable and affordable to all over the next decade.

Critically, to avoid costs of delay, the Scottish Government must find space for the Heat in Buildings Bill in this legislative programme.

  • Gillian Campbell is communications and public affairs lead with the Existing Homes Alliance - a coalition of housing, environmental, fuel poverty, consumer and industry organisations that believes Scotland’s existing homes must be transformed to help tackle fuel poverty and climate change.
Share icon
Share this article: