New Scot-Govt target on cutting fuel-poverty is kicked firmly forward into 20-year political long-grass after standing still for last 20 years

Scottish fuel poverty 1996 2016 goes backwards
Scottish fuel poverty 1996 (on left) and in 2016 (on right of bar graphic)

The Scot-Govt has set itself a new target so that no more than 5% of Scottish households should be living in fuel poverty by 2040.

This is after it dropped its previous target of eliminating fuel poverty by 2016 – when more than 1 Scots households in three is was still afflicted by the problem.

And – as the chart shows, the number of Scots households living in fuel poverty in 2016 was almost exactly same as 20 years previously – in 1996.

The new Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill also sets out a new definition of fuel poverty with innovative use of the UK Minimum Income Standard.

This will mean a household is classed as fuel poor if its required fuel costs are more than 10% of the household’s income after housing costs are paid, and if that means the remaining income is insufficient to maintain an acceptable standard of living.

Additionally the Bill requires Ministers to publish a fuel poverty strategy as well as a progress report every five years and a report at the end of the target date.

Scottish Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “Scotland is one of only a handful of European countries to define fuel poverty, let alone set a goal to eradicate it. Achieving the target will place Scotland amongst the very best in the world in terms of tackling fuel poverty.”

Citizens Advice Scotland gave a qualified welcome to the Scottish government’s Fuel Poverty Bill.

 CAS Energy spokesman Craig Salter said: “The Fuel Poverty Bill is a step in the right direction so we welcome the new definition, renewed targets, and moves towards a new fuel poverty strategy.

“But it is unacceptable that so many households in Scotland are in fuel poverty.

“We are glad to see that the Scottish Government has strengthened its target to reduce fuel poverty, with a target of 5% instead of 10%. However, a timeframe of achieving this by 2040 could still see a generation of households living in fuel poverty, and this target could be achieved sooner.

 “A new fuel poverty strategy must address all the drivers of fuel poverty, as improving energy efficiency alone will not end fuel poverty in Scotland. There is a real need for additional financial support to address rising energy costs and low incomes.”

Norman Kerr, director of the Energy Action Scotland charity which aims to tackle fuel poverty, commented:

“While the Government has raised its ambition – intending now that no more than 5% (previously 10%) of Scottish homes will be fuel poor by 2040 – Energy Action Scotland remains disappointed by the content of the new bill and we profoundly disagree on the timescale for that ambition.

“It expects that a full generation from now a significant number of households will still be fuel- poor and this is clearly unacceptable.”

28 Jun 2018

 

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