Scottish Labour makes plea for new fuel poverty elimination target

Alex Rowley
Alex Rowley

Scottish Labour is to use an upcoming Holyrood debate to call for a new target to eliminate fuel poverty after the Scottish Government failed to meet its pledge to eradicate the problem.

The party will urge MSPs across the chamber to back an “ambitious” new goal along with a Warm Homes Act and a “measurable plan of action”.

Ministers had pledged to eradicate the problem by November 2016 but the latest figures show around 845,000 households - or 35 per cent of homes in Scotland - are still affected, with almost half of those pensioners.

The Scottish Government has said an independent review of the definition of fuel poverty will be carried out.

Labour’s deputy Leader Alex Rowley told the BBC: “The last Labour-led government set a target to eradicate fuel poverty, but the deadline for that target has been missed and the SNP Government so far has shown no appetite or ambition to reset it. That has to change.

“Labour will call on all of the parties in the Scottish Parliament to unite and set a new, ambitious target.

“This winter, thousands of children and pensioners will be cold in their own home and the Government’s response is to review the definition. They should be resetting the target, not moving the goal posts.”

He added: “Labour wants to see a Warm Homes Act to drive up standards and regulations along with a measurable plan of action that will show year-on-year targets for eradicating fuel poverty in Scotland.

“Action speaks louder than words and to date despite the warm words from the SNP hundreds of thousands of adults and children remain in cold, damp and unacceptable housing conditions.

“The SNP Government must work with Parliament to ensure that once and for all we put in place what is necessary to deal with this issue.”

The Scottish Government said £1 billion was being spent on improving energy efficiency and promised to look at any “constructive” proposals put forward by opposition parties.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “By 2021, the Scottish Government will have committed £1bn since 2009 to tackle fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency, helping people to heat their homes affordably.

“We have a range of schemes in place to support those who may have difficulty paying fuel bills or keeping their home warm and are already committed to introducing a Warm Homes Bill.

“As part of that process we will give careful consideration to any constructive suggestions put forward by opposition parties.”

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