As the Scottish Government concedes fuel poverty targets will be missed, charities demand action to secure efficiency and affordability for the future
HOUSING GROUPS, charities and environmental groups have called for a three point plan to improve the energy efficiency of Scotland's most cold and poorly insulated homes.
The call was in response to the recent admission by the Scottish minister for local government and housing, Kevin Stewart, that the Scottish Government will not meet its statutory target for eradicating fuel poverty this November.
Organisations that make up the Existing Homes Alliance (EHA) have said that the Scottish Government must redouble its efforts on fuel poverty by introducing new investment and a new national programme.
"It is a national shame that there are currently 845,000 households in Scotland living in fuel poverty, and that energy inefficient homes stop many of those from escaping that poverty." Alan Ferguson
Alan Ferguson, chair of the EHA, said: "It is a national shame that there are currently 845,000 households in Scotland living in fuel poverty, and that energy inefficient homes stop many of those from escaping that poverty.
"Households are forced to waste precious cash and carbon because their homes leak out the warm air.
"It is of course disappointing that Scotland will miss the target to eradicate fuel poverty, which the Government has now acknowledged. We now strongly encourage Ministers to use the remaining three months to develop new plans that redouble efforts to tackle the scourge of fuel poverty.
"With the target countdown now on, we hope our proposed three-point plan is a constructive contribution that the Government can take forward. Investment in energy efficiency is a no-brainer, working alongside efforts to raise incomes and reduce energy costs.
"It will help lift people out of fuel poverty, stimulate the economy, create jobs and cut our climate change emissions."
The EHA suggests their measures would create up to 9,000 new jobs and end energy inefficiency as a key driver of fuel poverty.
The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 requires the Scottish Government to eradicate fuel poverty in Scotland as far as is reasonably practicable by November 2016, however in a letter dated 4 July Stewart admitted substantial improvements had not been met due to "circumstances and factors out of our control".
The World Wildlife Fund Scotland (WWF), the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), CIH Scotland (CIHS), Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers (ALACHO) and Energy Action Scotland (EAS) all make up the Existing Homes Alliance.
It commended the Scottish Government for reiterating its support for eradicating fuel poverty, however it said that it was imperative for the government to announce new plans to make sure future targets are not missed.
The first of its three part plan has called for a national infrastructure programme that supports every home to reach at least the standard of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band C by 2025.
The EHA suggests its measures would create up to 9,000 new jobs and end energy inefficiency as a key driver of fuel poverty.
It said it would also benefit 1.5 million households, reduce energy bills, carbon emissions and cut NHS costs for treating illnesses related to cold and damp homes.
Secondly, the EHA stated the Scottish Government should significantly increase public investment in home energy efficiency measures, so that fewer households would waste cash heating inefficient, damp homes.
Finally, the Alliance urged ministers to publish its consultation on the regulation of energy efficiency in the private sector, which is currently delayed.
"A new fuel poverty programme with strong new policies along with substantial investment will be needed to ensure that the number of households in Scotland living in fuel poverty is reduced." Jamie Stewart
Speaking to CommonSpace, Jamie Stewartm consumer futures spokesman at Citizens Advice Scotland, said: "It is regrettable that Scotland will miss the target to eradicate fuel poverty by November 2016.
"A new fuel poverty programme with strong new policies along with substantial investment will be needed to ensure that the number of households in Scotland living in fuel poverty is reduced.
"A new statutory target should also be introduced to help drive measures forward and reaffirm the government’s commitment to tackle fuel poverty.
The groups that have appealed to the government say it is important that private investment in put into tackling fuel poverty to help those in rented accommodation where energy efficiency of homes is lowest.
Picture courtesy of MLR
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