Government allocates over £9m of SEEP funding to help alleviate fuel poverty
Homes and businesses across 11 local authority areas are to receive a share of over £9 million of Scottish Government funding to pilot new and innovative approaches to drive down energy bills and tackle climate change.
Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) Pathfinder Fund is being directed at businesses, community groups and individuals working and living in areas with particularly high levels of fuel poverty.
These pilots will help shape the wider work that will be delivered when SEEP is rolled out further from 2018.
Announcing the funding, Cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities, Angela Constance, said: “Since 2008 over one million energy efficiency measures have been installed in almost one million households across Scotland which has helped make homes warmer and easier to heat.
“The Scottish Government will continue to prioritise tackling fuel poverty and remains committed to helping those most in need.
These SEEP pilot projects will build on our existing support for households and also improve the energy efficiency of community centres, charities, businesses and commercial properties.
“Tackling fuel poverty is a priority for us, but we need to be creative if we want to make a real lasting difference. I look forward to seeing how councils can bring their innovative ideas to life to reduce energy bills and tackle fuel poverty in their communities.”
Minister for business, innovation and energy, Paul Wheelhouse, added: “By taking a coordinated approach to improving buildings across the commercial, public and industrial sectors we are not only boosting the economy but will be able to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions which will help us meet our ambitious climate change targets.
“This is part of our overall investment of over £1 billion by 2021 in energy efficiency which aims to make homes and buildings warmer, improve health outcomes and create a supply chain across all of Scotland which will support around 4,000 jobs a year once the programme is fully operational.”
The funding has been welcomed by Citizens Advice Scotland but the Scottish Greens said the announcement lacks ambition.
CAS energy spokesman Craig Salter said: “Far too many households across Scotland cannot afford to heat their homes – at present around 35 per cent of households are in fuel poverty. This funding is therefore very welcome, and it is encouraging to see the Scottish Government taking action.
“Improving energy efficiency is a fundamental aspect of addressing fuel poverty, and finding innovative, collaborative approaches at a local level is essential. As SEEP is rolled out, it is important to ensure that support reaches the areas that need it the most, including remote rural communities, and that measures fit the needs of those areas.
“This is a positive step, but there is still a lot of work to be done to eradicate fuel poverty, and improving energy efficiency must go hand-in-hand with efforts to reduce the cost of energy and increase household incomes.”
Mark Ruskell MSP, climate & energy spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said: “While every energy efficiency project will make a real difference, the scale of ambition we’re seeing from the Scottish Government simply isn’t good enough. £8m is a drop in the ocean compared to what we could be doing by addressing Scotland’s cold and expensive to heat homes street by street.
“In the last Scottish budget ministers cut funding for fuel poverty measures, and although they agree with the Greens that energy efficient housing should be a national infrastructure priority they have yet to allocate the appropriate funds. The time for pilot projects is long past. We need to be scaling this work up immediately to tackle the scourge of fuel poverty, create good jobs and cut our climate emissions.”
A total of £14m was made available for SEEP projects, with £9.1m of funding being allocated to successful applicants, and the remaining funding being allocated to other energy efficiency projects across Scotland.
Range of energy efficiency measures for Penicuik Town Hall and Penicuik High Pavilion.
In addition, nearly £900,000 of loan funding is being made available to councils.