Cautious optimism as Scotland sets new fuel poverty targets


A previous target failed in 2016 

29th January 2019 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Holyrood’s communities committee has supported the Scottish Government’s fuel poverty bill but called for additional measures to tackle the problem.

A target of no more than 5% of households living in fuel poverty by 2040 has been set, after the previous target failed by a significant margin in 2016.

In a report the committee called for a separate target to focus on people living in extreme fuel poverty classed as those spending more than 205 of their income on energy.  

James Dornan, local government and communities’ committee convener, said: “We know that Scotland is an energy-rich country, yet during our evidence we talked to people who faced the impossible decision of either feeding their families or heating their homes.

“The stark reality is that over a quarter of households in Scotland still face extreme difficulties heating their homes, and this can rise to well over double that in rural and island communities. 

“The committee welcomes the fuel poverty bill’s core purpose, which could make a real difference to the life of thousands of Scottish families.

“However, the longer-term ambition should be the eradication of fuel poverty.”

Citizens Advice Scotland welcomed the report. Its energy spokesperson Emma Grant McColm said: “It is unacceptable in 21st century Scotland that people should have to choose between food and heating their home.

“We are campaigning for the bill to recognise the fact that those Scots living in remote rural areas face higher living costs, including fuel costs.

“We know that over half of all Scottish households which rely upon electric heating are estimated to be in fuel poverty, and many of those homes tend to be in rural areas, off the gas grid.”

Sarah Boyack, head of public affairs at the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, added: “At present, housing associations face a major issue that stands in the way of them reducing fuel poverty levels among their tenants.

"Currently, they cannot access Scottish Government funds to reduce fuel poverty and, with their tenants more likely to experience it, it is vital this changes.”