Impending missed target sparks call for national fuel poverty programme

fuel povertyCampaigners are marking three months to Scotland’s fuel poverty deadline by calling for a three point plan to improve the energy efficiency of the nation’s cold and leaky homes.

Members of the Existing Homes Alliance have urged the Scottish Government to redouble efforts by introducing new investment and a national programme to tackle fuel poverty.

The call follows the recent admission by minister for local government and housing Kevin Stewart that this November’s statutory target for eradicating fuel poverty will not be met.

The Existing Homes Alliance said that while the Scottish Government has reaffirmed its commitment to eradicating fuel poverty, it has yet to announce new policies in response to the impending missed target.

Made up of members including WWF Scotland, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, CIH Scotland, ALACHO and Energy Action Scotland, the Alliance is calling for the forthcoming Scottish Government budget to significantly increase public investment in home energy efficiency measures, so that fewer households waste cash heating leaky homes. The Alliance said there is an excellent return of benefits for such investment with recent research estimating a benefit:cost ratio of 2:1 for investment in energy efficiency.

Secondly, the Alliance wants the forthcoming Programme for Government to set an objective for a national infrastructure programme that supports every home to reach at least an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band C by 2025. In June 2015, the Scottish Government announced that it would make the improvement of energy efficiency a ‘National Infrastructure Priority’, and has since progressed new pilot programmes. However, no overall objectives for the infrastructure programme have yet been set.

Such a move, it argues, would largely eliminate energy efficiency as a driver of fuel poverty, benefit 1.5million households, help reduce energy bills, cut the nation’s carbon emissions, reduce NHS costs of treating illnesses related to cold and damp homes, and create up to 9,000 new jobs spread across Scotland. This objective is also supported by more than 50 major civic society organisations.

Finally, the Alliance urged ministers to publish a delayed consultation on the regulation of energy efficiency in private sector. This would leverage private investment into tackling fuel poverty and help those in rented accommodation, where the energy efficiency of homes is lowest, it said.

Alan Ferguson, chair of the Existing Homes Alliance, said: “It is a national shame that there are currently 845,000 households in Scotland living in fuel poverty, and that energy inefficient homes stop many of those from escaping that poverty. Households are forced to waste precious cash and carbon because their homes leak out the warm air.

“It is of course disappointing that Scotland will miss the target to eradicate fuel poverty, which the Government has now acknowledged. We now strongly encourage Ministers to use the remaining three months to develop new plans that redouble efforts to tackle the scourge of fuel poverty.

“With the target countdown now on, we hope our proposed three-point plan is a constructive contribution that the Government can take forward. Investment in energy efficiency is a no-brainer, working alongside efforts to raise incomes and reduce energy costs. It will help lift people out of fuel poverty, stimulate the economy, create jobs and cut our climate change emissions.”

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