Definitions and Targets - Scotland

The Scottish Government passed the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Act in June 2019 and it gained Royal Assent in July 2019. The main aims of the Act were to set new fuel poverty targets, to introduce a new definition of fuel poverty that will focus on low income households and to prepare and publish a new long-term Fuel Poverty Strategy.

Definition

The new Scottish definition of fuel poverty sets out two criteria that a household must fulfil:

• Its required fuel costs to maintain a satisfactory heating regime must be more than 10% of household net income after deducting housing costs and;

• The remaining household net income after the payment of fuel costs and any benefits received for a care need or disability (if any) and the household's childcare costs (if any) must also be insufficient to maintain an acceptable standard of living for the household.

Underpinning the definition, income will be calculated using the UK Minimum Income Standard (MIS). This will be set at 90% of this standard, after the costs for fuel, housing, council tax, water rates and childcare are deducted. The 10% fuel cost to income ratio will move from Before Housing Costs (BHC) to be based on an After Housing Costs (AHC) basis. In addition, the temperature regime will be enhanced for those most affected by the adverse outcomes of living in a cold, damp home. For these households, the other rooms’ temperature in the heating regime for the new definition increases from 18°C to 20°C compared to the 10% definition while the living room temperature is maintained at 23°C.

Targets

The new fuel poverty statutory target is to ensure that, in the year 2040 as far as reasonably possible; no household is in fuel poverty and in any event—

  • no more than 5% of households in Scotland will be in fuel poverty,
  • no more than 1& of households will be in extreme fuel poverty,
  • the median fuel poverty gap of households in Scotland in fuel poverty is no more than £250

There are two statutory interim targets at 2030 and 2040. The Scottish Government intends that the Energy Efficient Scotland programme will be the primary delivery mechanism for eradicating fuel poverty by 2040.

Local Authorities

Local Authorities were also obligated under the Housing (Scotland) Act (section 89) to produce local housing strategies (LHS), setting out the measures they would put in place to ensure ‘so far as reasonably practicable, that persons do not live in fuel poverty’.

Scottish Government Local Housing Strategy Guidance provides information on reporting requirements. There is also a Sustainable Housing Advice Note which provides further information on fuel poverty and climate change.

As part of the development of Energy Efficient Scotland, the Scottish Government has been consulting on Local Heat and Energy Efficient Strategies (LHEES) in 2018 and a response is expected soon.