Energy Action Scotland Reaction to new Scottish Fuel Poverty Figures Published

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ISSUED DATE: 6 December 2016

Energy Action Scotland Reaction to new Scottish Fuel Poverty Figures Published

The fall in the level of fuel poverty in Scotland, as announced today (6 December) is welcome news in that the figure is moving in the right direction and means fewer people are living in cold, damp homes compared to the previous year.  But unfortunately the change does not signify ‘job done’ as the new figure for 2015 is still higher than the first ever measurement of fuel poverty in 1996.

Today’s figures for the year 2015 stand at 748,000 households (30.7 per cent).  This is a fall since the previous year when 845,000 households (34.9 per cent) were fuel poor.  However, when fuel poverty first began to be measured officially in Scotland by the Scottish House Condition Survey in 1996, the level of fuel poverty in Scotland then was 738,000 households (35 per cent).  This shows that much work has still to be done before the problem of cold homes will disappear.

About a third of the drop in the annual fuel poverty level to 2015 is due to making homes in Scotland more energy efficient, while about half is due to lower domestic energy prices.  This underlines how important it is that the energy efficiency of homes should continue to be improved, particularly as it can’t be assumed that energy prices will remain relatively low.  The Scottish Government is right to continue to fund programmes that aim to stop homes leaking heat and to provide modern and efficient heating.

The action the Scottish Government is already taking to improve the housing stock must in fact be stepped up and this is apparent in rural areas.  There has been a welcome drop in the levels of rural fuel poverty to 2015, due largely to relatively low heating oil prices recently.  Again, however, these price levels can’t be guaranteed to remain low and so improving the energy efficiency of housing must not tail off but continues in order to guard against future price rises.

Norman Kerr, Director of the national fuel poverty charity Energy Action Scotland said: “Just last month the statutory duty under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 for the Scottish Government to eradicate fuel poverty expired and the target was missed.  Two working groups were tasked to advise Scottish Ministers on their next steps and they have made over 100 recommendations.  It is now vital that the Scottish Government uses this advice to develop a new strategy, set a new fuel poverty target and increase funding for its programmes in the upcoming Budget Statement.

“The progress to date on solving the problem of cold, damp and unaffordable to heat homes must not be lost, but can and should be built upon.”

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For further details contact:

Elizabeth Gore, Public Relations Manager, Energy Action Scotland on: 0141 226 3064 or e.gore@eas.org.uk

Background notes:

1.  Energy Action Scotland is the national charity which campaigns for an end to fuel poverty and works to promote warm, dry homes for all in Scotland.  See: www.eas.org.uk

2.  Fuel poverty is the inability to afford adequate warmth in the home, defined as needing to pay more than 10 per cent of income on energy costs.

3.  The main causes of fuel poverty are poor energy efficiency of the home, high domestic fuel prices and low household income.

4.  The official Scottish Government figures show that in 2015 there were 748,000 households in Scotland in fuel poverty ie 30.7%.  Source: Scottish House Condition Survey 2015 Key Findings published by the Scottish Government on 6 December 2016 and accessed here

5.  The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 had placed a statutory duty on the Scottish Government to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that people were not living in fuel poverty in Scotland by November 2016.  This target was not met.  Two advisory groups have recently (24 October 2016) published their recommendations to the Scottish Government on how to take forward their plans to eradicate fuel poverty in Scotland.  The reports can be found here for the Scottish Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group and here for the Scottish Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force.