Fuel poverty targets must not be allowed to slip this time, warn charities
New targets to end fuel poverty are to be created after Scotland spectacularly failed to eradicate the problem by the 2016 deadline.
The Scottish Government has been forced into action after it missed a statutory date for ending the problem last November.
People are defined as being in fuel poverty if they need to pay more than 10% of income on energy costs. According to the latest figures, more than a third of Scots are currently living in fuel poverty.
Charities have been campaigning for the Scottish Government to set another date – and this time ensure they stick to it.
Now ministers have said they will open a consultation on how fuel poverty is defined – and new targets for its elimination.
Equalities secretary Angela Constance said she will consult with charities before measures are set out in a new warm homes bill later this year.
She said: ““I’m pleased to announce a review of the definition of fuel poverty, which will look at whether changes are needed to help us better target our efforts to eradicate fuel poverty in the forthcoming bill.”
Lori McElroy, chair of the Existing Homes Alliance, a coalition which includes WWF Scotland, Energy Action Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, said it is vital new targets are not missed.
She added: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitments to consult on a new statutory fuel poverty eradication target and strategy.
“However, any new fuel poverty goal will remain out of reach unless it is backed up by stronger action and a target to improve the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes, alongside other actions on income, managing energy and energy prices.
“The commitment to put in place minimum energy performance standards in the private rented sector and a phased regulation of other existing buildings will really help improve housing conditions for vulnerable tenants and reduce fuel bills.”
She said it is crucial that work is started to better insulate homes: “We have the technologies and skills we need to do this but just lack a clear goal. Insulating homes to the maximum level possible would help to protect the most vulnerable, save the NHS millions of pounds, reduce fuel bills and create up to 9,000 quality jobs right across Scotland.
“This approach has widespread support across the Scottish Parliament and is backed by more than 50 business and civic organisations in Scotland.”