Scottish Government fails to meet fuel poverty target Scottish Fuel Poverty Taskforce files report
CAMPAIGNERS against fuel poverty have expressed their disappointment at the failure of successive Scottish Governments since 2002 to address the inability of vulnerable households in rural Scotland to deal with rising energy costs.
According to the Scottish Fuel Poverty Taskforce (SFPT), half of all rural and remote households live in fuel poverty and nearly two thirds of remote households live in fuel poverty, including 23 per cent who live in extreme fuel poverty.
Recommendations of the taskforce report included personalised outreach support for rural households and increased public investment for rural areas, with specific tailoring to local needs.
The 2002 Scottish Government set itself the target of eliminating fule poverty in Scotland by November 2016. In that period the number of Scots in fuel poverty has never fallen below 30 per cent.
The number of households in fuel poverty in Scotland stands at 34.9 per cent or an estimated 845,000 people.
Lori McElroy, chair of the Existing Homes Alliance (EHA), said: “When this target date was set for the elimination of fuel poverty, it was universally described as ambitious. For more than a decade experts have warned that a target alone was not enough, and that concerted action would be required so no-one is left in fuel poverty because of the state of their home.
“This earlier target has been missed because insufficient action has been taken since 2002, but today’s reports clearly show the way ahead. The Scottish Government has all the powers it needs to regulate and improve the quality of the homes we live in. With a consistent commitment, none of Scotland’s homes should be below the energy performance certificate band C standard by 2025.
“The first test of those commitments will be the forthcoming Scottish Budget process. Will the money follow?”
The Scottish Fule Poverty Rural Taskforce (SFPRT) was set up in August 2015, charged with finding practical proposals that would help people living in rural and remote Scotland to keep their homes warm. Charities and advocacy groups such as the EHA and Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) advised on the findings and sat on the taskforce board itself.
“This earlier target has been missed because insufficient action has been taken since 2002, but today’s reports clearly show the way ahead.” Lori McElroy
Craig Salter, energy spokesman for the consumer futures unit at CAS, who was a member of the SFPRT said: “Far too many households throughout Scotland cannot afford to heat their homes – but the problem is even more acute for those living in rural areas. At present, around 50 per cent of households in rural Scotland are in fuel poverty, compared with around 35 per cent in the rest of Scotland. It is clear that more needs to be done to address the issues facing rural areas.
“The report of the SFPRT is a significant step forward in tackling fuel poverty in rural Scotland. It sets out practical steps for achieving affordable warmth for all consumers, particularly in relation to those who live off the gas grid and in remote areas, and can be at greater risk of falling into fuel poverty.
“Far too many households throughout Scotland cannot afford to heat their homes – but the problem is even more acute for those living in rural areas.” Craig Salter
Other recommendations included more help for off-gas households who are more likely to suffer fuel poverty being, as well as the piloting of an “energy carer” scheme to allow for catered and affordable energy to vulnerable groups.
The full Scottish definition of fuel poverty according to the Scottish Fuel Poverty Statement of 2002 is “a household is in fuel poverty if, in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime, requires more than 10 per cent of its income to spend on all household fuel use,” with more than 20 per cent of income spent representing extreme fuel poverty.
Currently, the number of households in fuel poverty in Scotland stands at 34.9 per cent or an estimated 845,000 people. The number of households in extreme fuel poverty stood at 9.5 per cent or 229,000 persons in 2015.
Picture of courtesy Dean Shareski
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