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Election Special Report on Fuel Poverty

Ahead of the Scottish Parliamentary Election on 3 May 2007, Energy Action Scotland has asked the main parties to outline how they would tackle fuel poverty.

* Click here for the latest Keeping Scotland Warm Manifesto 2007


A Domestic Energy Efficiency Policy

Energy Action Scotland and the Centre for Scottish Public Policy joined with Transco and UNISON to run seminars to bring experts and interested bodies together, drawing on their combined experience to produce recommendations to eliminate fuel poverty in Scotland. - Press Release

Kereping Scotland Warm
An initiative to bring fuel poverty and energy efficiency issues before the Scottish Parliament




Energy Action Scotland
UNISON Scotland









 Domestic Energy Efficiency Policy

30% of Scottish households live in fuel poverty and nine out of ten homes fall below current energy efficiency standards. Only about a quarter of Scotland's homes are adequately heated and insulated. These are just some of the startling facts surrounding fuel poverty today in Scotland.

An initiative to bring these policy issues in front of the Scottish Parliament was launched earlier this year. National charity, Energy Action Scotland (EAS) and the Centre for Scottish Public Policy (CSPP) joined together with Transco and UNISON to run a series or working seminars. The aim was to bring experts and interested bodies together and to draw on their combined experience to produce a series of recommendations to eliminate fuel poverty in Scotland.

Recognising that there is no one single cause of fuel poverty, working seminars focused on Housing, Social Policy, Environment and Energy Efficiency, and the recommendations have been combined to form a blueprint to Keep Scotland Warm.



Fuel poverty is a major problem in Scotland: 700,000 households are unable to afford adequate warmth due to the energy-inefficiency of their dwelling. For the fuel poor, the consequences are misery, discomfort, ill health and debt. Pensioners, lone parent families, the long term ill or disabled and those on low incomes and in poor housing are the most vulnerable. The causes are linked to 3 factors; house condition, disposable income of the household, and price of domestic fuel.

In the run up to the proposed Scottish Executive Housing Bill this year, many organisations and individuals are keen to see fuel poverty specially included in the Bill.

The Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 (HECA) places local authorities under an obligation to reduce their CO2 emissions. The means of achieving these targets include improving the energy efficiency of housing stock.

Fuel poverty is also affected by UK Government policies such as social security and energy, and includes the Utilities Bill. If the plans to eradicate child poverty, promote social inclusion, and meet our Kyoto commitments on emissions are to be achieved, fuel poverty must be addressed too, as they are inter-linked.

The role of the electricity and gas markets regulator, Ofgem, also plays an important role. Ofgem has consulted on a range of issues affecting the fuel poor and has published its Social Action Plan.

Domestic energy companies also have a role. Under Energy Efficiency Standards of Performance (EESOP), they are obliged to direct funds into energy efficiency programmes, some of which must be for the benefit of the fuel poor.


The way forward

EAS has long stated that a comprehensive review of energy efficiency is required to produce a clear sustainable domestic energy efficiency policy for Scotland. The seminars have endorsed this view and have made the following recommendations.

HECA was intended as the main delivery mechanism for creating warmer, drier homes. However, it is believed that in its current format HECA will struggle to deliver. The following changes are sought:

  • All local authorities to be required to set aside money for a grant programme similar to the Warm Deal for those not receiving state benefit. This should be additional money allocated by the Scottish Executive.

  • HECA to be amended so that each authority be required to appoint a HECA coordinator. This post should be of suitable standing and position within the local authority to influence policy and drive through change.

  • Additional money for HECA activities to be ring-fenced so that energy efficiency is given higher priority and profile.

  • All social landlords with 150 properties or more to be required to submit a HECA report to their local authority.

  • Energy audits to be carried out across all Scottish housing stock by all local authorities.

It is recognised that the private rented sector has a disproportionate level of poor housing stock and houses a disproportionate number of fuel poor. Initiatives such as Warm Deal, which now targets more to the private/private rented sector, are welcome. However, without greater legislation for this sector, the effectiveness of these initiatives will be diminished. It is therefore recommended that:

  • Legislation be introduced to require those who either currently provide or wish to provide homes for lease or rent be registered as landlords with the local authority.

  • Landlords are required to display an energy rating for each property let.

  • Each landlord be required not to withhold permission for energy efficiency works to the property unreasonably, and the tenant to have the right of appeal to the local authority, as the licence giver, to have this work carried out.

Greater legislation is required to raise the standard of new homes to prevent a recurrence of current problems in future. Delegates were aware of commitments made by the Scottish parliament to amend building regulations in summer 2000. The following recommendations were made

  • Reviews of planning guidelines and building regulations to be undertaken regularly eg. every five years.

  • All new building regulations to take immediate effect and be set to the highest standard (SAP 90; NHER 9 as aspiration).

  • Guidance on current Tolerable Standard to be issued by Scottish Executive, and the proposed new Housing Quality Index introduced.

  • The Scottish Executive to set a Domestic Health and Safety Standard for all homes.

Much can be achieved without the need for new legislation and the seminars recognised that the Scottish Executive, through the issue of guidance and by encouraging good practice, can influence both the public and those who work with the public to promote energy efficiency. The following recommendations were made

  • To raise profile and improve coordination of initiatives, the Scottish Executive to appoint a Healthy Homes Co-ordinator for Scotland.

  • The Scottish Executive to undertake a long term awareness-raising campaign to promote energy efficiency. Education authorities in Scotland to be encouraged to increase promotion of energy conservation and efficiency through schools and through joint ventures with industry. The current 5-14 year old curriculum to support teachers in achieving this.

  • The Scottish Executive to encourage greater cooperation between health professionals and domestic energy efficiency practitioners.

  • Good practice in energy advice to be promoted by the Scottish Executive as part of an ongoing educational process on energy efficiency and conservation.

  • Fuel utilities to be encouraged to provide leasing schemes for heating systems, not only to local authorities but to all social housing providers. Leasing agreements for private individuals also to be encouraged.

  • Transco's Affordable Warmth Programme has been accepted by the UK government as a means of providing heating systems to those in need. The Affordable Warmth Programme to be promoted by the Scottish Executive to all social housing providers as a model of good practice for central heating lease deals.

  • Private finance lenders to be encouraged to offer investment loans for energy efficiency measures, eg. green mortgages. The Scottish Executive to open a dialogue with the main Scottish financial institutions to explore green loans as a means of promoting energy efficiency to the fuel rich.

Energy efficiency grants to householders encourage action and so are to be encouraged. However, the current grant programme despite its best endeavours may not be sufficient to achieve warm, dry homes for all. The following are recommended:

  • The effectiveness of the Warm Deal to be reviewed eg. additional funding may be required to enable the Warm Deal to provide grants for buildings in multiple occupation.

  • A new grant scheme to give discounted heating systems to be introduced, in conjunction with the fuel utilities, and promoted via local authorities.

  • Local Authority Heating Benefit Accounts and a Government Heating Fund to be established. These would provide targeted subsidies to those living in fuel poverty, and give low income customers without bank accounts access to the benefits of cheaper energy payment methods, such as direct debit. (Fuller details available from Energy Action Scotland.)


The Participants

The working seminars were run by experts in their respective fields and EAS and CSPP would like to thank Friends of the Earth (Scotland), The Poverty Alliance and Shelter Scotland for their invaluable contributions.

The seminar series would not have been possible without the support and sponsorship of a number of organisations who are also committed to tackling fuel poverty. EAS and CSPP would like to thank Transco and UNISONScotland as the main sponsors, and Scottish Power, Scottish and Southern Energy and Scottish Homes who provided additional sponsorship and support.

The seminars themselves were attended by a wide range of individuals and organisations including private companies, energy suppliers, local authorities, consumer bodies and advisory bodies. They are listed here:

Age Concern Scotland
Argyll and Bute Council
Church and Nation Committee
Clackmannanshire Council
Cloch Housing Association
Centre for Scottish Public Policy
Dimplex UK Ltd
Eaga Partnership
East Renfrewshire Council
Energy Action Scotland
Energy Saving Trust
Fife Council
Friends of the Earth Scotland
Gas Consumers Council
Glasgow City Council
Home Energy Solutions Ltd
Inverclyde Council
Martin Nichol Partnership
Miller Pattison Ltd
North Ayrshire Council
The Poverty Alliance
Scottish Gas
Scottish Hydro-Electric
Scottish Liberal Democrats
Scottish Local Government Forum Against Poverty
Shelter Scotland
SOLAS Scotland
South Lanarkshire Council
Stirling Council
Scottish Homes
West Lothian Council
Wester Hailes Partnership
Whiteinch & Scotstoun Housing Association


Further information

Much of the information given in this report summarises the conclusions of the working seminars. For further information, or to discuss points in more detail, please contact Energy Action Scotland, Suite 4a Ingram House, 227 Ingram Street, Glasgow G1 1DA. Tel: 0141 226 3064. Fax: 0141 221 2788. Email: eas@eas.org.uk



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