Scottish Government to cut fuel poverty funding by £15m, claims Labour

Domestic-energy-use--fuel povertyScottish Labour has accused the SNP of planning to cut the country’s fuel poverty budget by up to £15 million in the next year.

Last month, the Scottish Government committed £103m to improve energy efficiency and tackle fuel poverty in its Draft Budget 2016/17 which appeared to be an increase on the previous year.

However, independent experts at the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice) have confirmed that the final fuel poverty budget for 2015/16 was initially £79m, but was then increased to £119m by deputy first minister John Swinney following a departmental reshuffle in February 2015.

The draft budget 2016/17 said the energy efficiency budget for the previous year was only £89m, suggesting the current £103m was an increase.

Scottish Labour communities spokesman Ken Macintosh said the public would be “utterly baffled” by the figures.

He added: “Given what is happening across the country following the flooding, people need help more than ever to heat their homes.

“In 2001 the last Labour-led Scottish Government said everyone in Scotland deserves a decent, warm and secure home and we set an ambitious target to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016.

“It is a target the SNP Government in Edinburgh is going to miss by a country mile and it makes no sense to respond by cutting the fuel poverty budget by a staggering £15m. This isn’t standing up for Scotland - it is accepting austerity.

“With huge new powers over tax and social security coming to Scotland no family should face a choice between heating and eating.

“Scottish Labour has committed to a ground-breaking Scottish Warm Homes Act. This will deliver important changes in planning and building regulations to further help Scotland tackle fuel poverty.

“We will also adopt energy efficiency as a National Infrastructure Project and we will look at ways to better support the most vulnerable insulate their homes.

“We have the opportunity to do things differently in Scotland and after eight years in government, a majority in parliament and more powers than ever before there are no excuses for the SNP on this.”

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