Homes Fit for the 21st Century
In recognition of its ambitions in tackling climate change, fuel poverty, homelessness and other housing matters, the Scottish Government published Homes Fit for the 21st Century: The Scottish Government’s Strategy and Action Plan for Housing in the Next Decade: 2011-2020 on 4 February 2011. The Strategy marks a new integrated approach towards a number of key areas of social policy in Scotland, specifically setting out the link between housing, poverty and health inequalities as a starting point for addressing a range of connected problems throughout the next decade.
The Strategy sets out the intention to develop policy with regard to addressing sustainability of housing on a number of levels and restates the goal of significantly improving the quality of existing housing stock in Scotland. Working across all tenures to improve the standard of housing and the lives of people in Scotland, the intention is to regenerate communities and ensure the best standard of living for all.
The Action Plan sets two key tasks to be achieved in 2012:
- Develop a new social housing standard which will require higher levels of energy efficiency by 2020
- Develop a Strategy for Sustainable Housing in Scotland which integrates policies on climate change; energy efficiency; fuel poverty; planning and the built environment
Of the three factors influencing fuel poverty, energy efficiency is where the Scottish Government has the most control. The Strategy and Action Plan declares the intention to maintain government programmes in Scotland that are designed to address energy efficiency and the key 2020 targets from the Energy Efficiency Action Plan are also reiterated.
In autumn 2012, the Scottish Government consulted on its draft Sustainable Housing Strategy. This set out its vision for warm, high quality, affordable, low carbon homes and a housing sector that helps to establish a successful low carbon economy across Scotland. This is due in mid 2013.
Homes Fit for the 21st Century made a commitment to consult on a new social housing standard. A consultation to seek views on the proposed Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH) therefore ran in parallel with that on the Sustainable Housing Strategy. It proposed setting a minimum EPC rating which all social rented housing should meet by 2020. The aim of the standard is to build on the achievements of the existing Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) and to help tackle climate change and fuel poverty. The consultation also proposed setting higher standards to be met beyond the initial 2020 deadline. The Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing is scheduled for publication in the first half of 2013.
Recognising that there was a change coming to GB-wide energy efficiency schemes at the end of 2012, the Strategy stated the intention of the Scottish Government to engage with the UK Government and influence the development process to ensure that Scotland gets a fair deal under the new Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation.