People will die - Holyrood savaged on fuel poverty

Fuel-poverty-lady-web

Scottish Government attacked on its fuel poverty failiures

12th November 2015 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

A leading charity has slammed the Scottish Government's record on fuel poverty, saying needless deaths will continue for as long as it fails to eradicate the problem. 

Norman Kerr, director of Energy Action Scotland, told delegates at the charity's annual conference in Peebles the government was set to fail in its commitment to eradicate the problem by 2016 and had to take responsibility for this failure. 

Earlier the conference heard housing minister Margaret Burgess claim the government was still committed in its attempts to eradicate the problem.

But Kerr countered by saying thousands will remain in fuel poverty next year, some of whom will die as a direct consequence of failing to afford heat for their homes.

Last winter 4,000 excess deaths were attributable to the cold weather with an estimated 20% of these deaths linked to fuel poverty, he said.

Norman Kerr

Norman Kerr

There will be tens of thousands in fuel poverty by this time next year

Kerr added: “It's time for the Scottish Government to stop saying we're committed and admit the target as it stands will not be reached.

"There will be tens of thousands in fuel poverty by this time next year. I urge the minister to take that a message back to her parliamentary colleagues and face reality.

"With just one year to go to the target we see fuel poverty at its highest ever level.

"Higher than when we first started to measure it, higher even than when we first defined the problem and higher than the resources we have available to tackle the issue." 

The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 placed a statutory duty on the Scottish Government to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016.

However, successive governments have each failed to reach a succession of benchmarks to tackle the problem. 

Despite the Scottish Household Survey expected to show a drop in fuel poverty figures, Kerr said this would be as a result of "tinkering with methodology rather than based on real success or progress."

Housing minister Margaret Burgess said she was committed to taking on the problem, with tackling inequality at the heart of government's policy agenda.

"We have allocated over £500 million since 2009 on a raft of fuel poverty measures and this year a record £119m is being made available for this," she said.

"The new Warmer Homes Scotland scheme will deliver the best possible help to thousands of people who are blighted by fuel poverty." 

A range of agencies, charities and companies from across the country have come together for the two day conference to discuss ways of turning cold, damp houses into warm, dry homes. 

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