Outlining the £50-million plan to ensure that ‘all homes in Scotland are more fuel efficient by 2040’, Sturgeon spoke of her commitment to tackle fuel poverty and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Total funding of £54.5 million in the 2018-19 financial year will support local authorities to expand existing energy efficiency and fuel poverty programmes, as well as continuing to support building owners to develop local heat and energy efficiency strategies, as well as making funding available to social landlords to help them install low carbon heating systems.
However, critics pointed out that the last Scot-Govt programme to eliminate fuel-poverty ended two years ago with nearly one million people still suffering.
Sturgeon said yesterday: “This programme will help ensure all our buildings are warmer, greener and more energy efficient.
“The major investment in this programme highlights our clear commitment to ensuring that we tackle fuel poverty and reduce greenhouse gas emissions – helping those on low incomes as well as protecting our environment.”
Norman Kerr, Director of the anti-fuel-poverty campaigning charity Energy Action Scotland, said: “We are pleased to see Scottish Government set out its plans to eradicate fuel poverty while making Scotland’s home more energy efficient.
“But 649,000 households in Scotland are currently living in fuel poverty – which is an unacceptably high number of people making a daily choice between heating and eating.
“Fuel poverty is a massive burden to our NHS, leading to delayed discharge and increasing the number of older people attending their GP by 19% for every degree the temperature drops below 5 degrees centigrade. This is unaffordable and unacceptable.
“35% of rural households live in fuel poverty. Across the rest of the country that figure is 31%. These are households unable to afford adequate heat for basic health, unable to afford adequate heat to keep their homes dry, unable to afford adequate heat to cook or refrigerate food,or provide hot water for washing.”
At Citizens Advice Scotland, energy expert Kate Morrison said: “Last year, we recommended ways to put consumers at the heart of Scotland’s new programme for home energy efficiency. We said that for a national scheme of this scale and duration to work, it is essential that consumers buy into it.
“This means there must be a sustained campaign to build public support for the objectives, funding and regulatory programmes to prioritise those who are fuel-poor and more vulnerable, attractive incentives for all households to install energy efficiency measures; and a robust framework for consumer protection and redress, to create confidence and trust.
“We welcome the energy-efficiency route map towards these aims. The new targets give more certainty across all housing sectors and for industry. In the rental sector, we support regulatory standards to protect tenants, providing warmer homes and alleviating fuel poverty. Convincing owner-occupiers, on the other hand, will need the right encouragement and support, and we look forward to working with the Scottish Government on these and on the consultation detail.”
3 May 2018