ENDING FUEL POVERTY COULD TAKE 28 YEARS: GREENS URGE FASTER PACE
With one year to go to the Scottish Government's target of eradicating fuel poverty, the Scottish Greens are urging ministers to dramatically increase investment in energy efficient housing to help the near-one million households unable to keep warm.
Analysis by the Scottish Greens shows that if the Scottish Government keeps spending on energy efficiency at its current rate, it will take 28 years to help all of the 940,000 homes in fuel poverty.
Through Home Energy Efficiency Programmes (HEEPS), the Scottish Government helped around 33,000 homes in 2013/14 - 24,000 households were helped with Area-Based Schemes, 6,800 with Energy Assistance Schemes and 2,200 from the Affordable Warmth Scheme. Measures included new boilers, gas central heating and wall insulation.
The budget for HEEPS in 2013/2014 was £74m but around £5m was not taken up by councils due to delays in procurement and guidance.
Patrick Harvie MSP, the Scottish Greens' economy and energy spokesperson, said:
"The Scottish Government pledged to eradicate fuel poverty by November 2016, and everyone except the Government itself seems to have admitted that there's no chance now of hitting this target. The number of households unable to heat their homes has been growing, not shrinking, and while some important powers are yet to be devolved Scottish ministers could be doing much more with the powers they already have.
"We know that investing in energy efficient homes is one of the best ways to tackle fuel poverty, but if the Government continues at its current rate, it will take decades for all vulnerable people and families in Scotland to have decent warm homes. Ministers have agreed with Green calls for warm homes to become a National Infrastructure Priority, but we need to see that pledge backed with a serious increase in the forthcoming budget, and for that funding to be spent in full.
"We've also proposed the creation of thousands of apprenticeships in energy efficiency to tackle the skills gap and get the sector up to capacity. We will continue to press on these issues so we end the scandal of people being unable to heat their homes in energy-rich Scotland, and so we create quality construction jobs and get our climate targets back on track."