SFHA welcomes energy efficiency ambition but calls for government investment

Sarah Boyack

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has responded to the Scottish Government’s announcement of a long term plan for energy efficiency by welcoming its ambition but calling for support to enable housing associations to continue to lead on energy efficiency and the provision of affordable warmth.

Responding to the proposals, SFHA’s head of public affairs, Sarah Boyack, said: “The SFHA welcomes the ambition and long term commitment demonstrated in the announcements made by the First Minister today. The SFHA fully supports ambitious plans to reduce carbon emissions and to eliminate poor energy efficiency as a cause of fuel poverty. Housing associations have a strong track record in energy efficiency, renewables and affordable warmth - associations have the most energy efficient homes in Scotland and have a track record of delivering energy efficiency advice and initiatives such as district and renewable heating.”

While welcoming the ambition, however, the SFHA made it clear that ambitious targets need to be supported by Scottish Government investment to bring about the transformational change proposed in the announcement.

Ms Boyack added: “What is proposed represents a welcome level of ambition to ensure housing makes a contribution to reducing carbon emissions but also, crucially to help insulate tenants against rising energy prices. While housing associations have the most energy efficient homes in Scotland, their tenants are on average on low incomes and so more likely to be in fuel poverty than the average Scottish household. Fuel poverty levels are highest in rural areas off the mains gas grid and these areas particularly require investment and support. While housing associations have invested significantly in the energy efficiency of their homes in order to meet existing energy efficiency standards for social housing, we know that the majority of that investment has come from their own resources.

“With these new targets, which are very challenging, there needs to be a discussion on how the significant investment required will be funded. We are therefore calling on long term funding support from the Scottish Government to enable housing associations to continue to lead on energy efficiency and renewables and to provide their tenants with affordable warmth. This funding would meet the Scottish Government’s commitment to treat energy efficiency as a National Infrastructure Priority.”

Ms Boyack concluded: “Housing associations are ideally placed to lead on home energy efficiency and the development of innovative approaches to providing affordable warmth. They have the numbers of properties, the long term ownership, the asset management skills and the commitment to social justice to lead on schemes to provide affordable warmth and reduce carbon emissions.

“Our members have already made significant progress in increasing the energy efficiency of their homes and in developing innovative approaches to providing affordable warmth such as renewable heating, district heating and setting up their own not for profit energy company. We now call on the Scottish Government to provide the support to enable our members to continue to lead on low carbon affordable warmth while keeping rents affordable.”

The Existing Homes Alliance urged the government to set new targets in law, increase funding, and put in place regulation and incentives to support homeowners to get their homes up to a good standard.

Alliance chair Lori McElroy said: “There is much to be welcomed in the First Minister’s announcement on the Scottish Government’s energy efficiency plans. In particular, we welcome the strong action to ensure that tenants in the private rented sector will see their homes improved over the coming years and we welcome the expectation that most of Scotland’s homes will get to an energy performance standard of C by 2030.

“However to realise this ambition, the government must commit to bringing forward new multi-year funding across all sectors, including incentives, support and regulation for homeowners. This must be done well before 2040 to effectively tackle fuel poverty and climate emissions from our homes.”

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