Scottish Government sets new fuel poverty target
The Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill also sets out a new definition of fuel poverty with innovative use of the UK Minimum Income Standard. This will mean a household is classed as fuel poor if its required fuel costs are more than 10% of the household’s income after housing costs are paid, and if that means the remaining income is insufficient to maintain an acceptable standard of living.
Additionally the Bill requires ministers to publish a fuel poverty strategy as well as a progress report every five years and a report at the end of the target date.
CIH Scotland has welcomed the introduction of the Bill but has called on the Scottish Government to take action to ensure that meaningful progress is made towards eradicating fuel poverty.
Currently, 26.5% of households in Scotland are still living in fuel poverty despite significant investment in improving homes, particularly in the social rented sector. The Bill’s proposed new statutory target of no more than 5% of households to be living in fuel poverty by 2040 has been reduced from the previously proposed target of no more than 10%.
Responding to a consultation on fuel poverty earlier this year, CIH Scotland called for a more ambitious target, underpinned by funding and support to improve homes across all tenures.
Annie Mauger, CIH Scotland director, said: “There are still far too many people living in homes that they can’t afford to heat. We welcome the recognition from Scottish Government that this issue needs to be tackled and that the target has been revised from 10% of households down to 5% by 2040. But we think that more can and should be done before 2040. We want to make sure that every home in Scotland is warm and safe and were disappointed to see that the Scottish Government’s recently published consultation, Energy Efficient Scotland, suggests delaying regulation of energy efficiency for home owners until 2030 at the earliest.
“Cold, damp homes are bad for people’s health and wellbeing and poor energy efficiency means that many people have to make difficult decisions on whether to heat their homes or pay for other essentials. The social housing sector has been leading the way on energy efficiency and we want to see these high standards replicated across tenures so that everyone feels the benefit.”
Publishing the Bill, housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “Everyone in Scotland should have the right to live in a warm, comfortable home and our new target is ambitious and achievable.
“Scotland is one of only a handful of European countries to define fuel poverty, let alone set a goal to eradicate it. Achieving the target will place Scotland amongst the very best in the world in terms of tackling fuel poverty.
“The new definition, recommended by a panel of independent academic experts, focuses on low income households, meaning we can target interventions more effectively to those who need help most.
“Today we also publish our draft strategy, setting out actions to improve people’s lives, provide support to those who need it most and create jobs by helping industry to invest in the energy efficiency and low carbon heating measures that will be so crucial to delivering our aims.
“Our commitment to eradicating fuel poverty is clear. We have invested more than £1 billion since 2009 in energy efficiency and tackling fuel poverty, designated energy efficiency as a National Infrastructure Priority, and, now, set out a clear target in legislation, with a coherent strategy describing how to get there.”
The Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill was published today. The draft fuel poverty strategy has also been published today and a final version will be published by 2019.