More than a quarter of Scottish households suffering from fuel poverty

The latest Scottish House Condition Survey shows that energy costs took up more than 10% of household income in 27.1% of households. This means more than a quarter of Scottish households are suffering from fuel poverty.

Political reaction was fairly predictable.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“We are doing everything we can within our limited powers to provide a wide range of energy efficiency measures to individual households and to local authorities. But we need the full powers of independence to fully tackle all the causes of fuel poverty.”

Labour’s Jackie Baillie said:
“Despite the small progress these figures show, because of the energy price hikes in 2013, we know that tens of thousands more Scottish households are in fuel poverty now than last year. It is therefore scandalous that the SNP have underspent the budget which tackles fuel poverty and is now cutting the budget. Thousands more Scots this winter will face the invidious choice of heating or eating. It shouldn’t be like this Scots need energy prices frozen and need the energy market reformed.”

Green MSP Patrick Harvie said:
“The single most effective thing any government can do to cut fuel poverty is to invest in energy efficiency. Far too many households in Scotland are still paying through the nose for heat which simply flows out through roofs, windows and walls.”

Households most likely to be in fuel poverty in 2012 were pensioners and single working age adults. Rural dwellings which are not on the gas grid were also more likely to be living in fuel poverty.

The IPPR has published a report proposing a cost-neutral policy framework to improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock – ‘Help to Heat’ claims to provide an immediate and long-lasting solution to energy affordability, boost GDP through job-creation, and reduce both carbon emissions and the UK’s reliance on gas imports.

They argue that the government’s Green Deal energy efficiency scheme is dramatically under-performing. Similarly, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) policy is ineffective at targeting fuel poverty, and entrenches the market power of the Big Six energy companies to the detriment of the industry as a whole.

This report proposes a new integrated energy efficiency and fuel poverty framework called ‘Help to Heat’. The policies included in this framework would make improved efficiency and substantial bill reductions available to thousands more households through free energy efficiency assessments, low-cost financing options, local economies of scale and improved supply chains, greater competition and effective targeting of fuel poverty need.

We need action on all three elements of fuel poverty. The IPPR plan is a contribution on energy efficiency and Labour’s price freeze addresses price. The third element is household income and that will only be addressed by improving wages and ending the welfare cuts.

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3 Comments

  1. The Scottish Government is already doing what it can, within a set budget that has been cut by Westminster
    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/Housing/warmhomes/fuelpoverty
    Why do you state that it is ‘predictable’ for the Scottish government to point out that without full sovereign powers Scotland will only, at best, be able to mitigate some of the worst excesses of Westminster?
    Energy freeze? Ending welfare cuts? Increasing wages via a lift to the minimum wage? All in the hands of Westminster – and with the revenues accruing from devolved initiatives going back to the Treasury, rather than Scotland to build the sustainability of fuel poverty initiatives.
    The real scandal is that we have fuel poverty in energy rich Scotland, made worse by a unionist elite determined to keep the real levers of change out of the hands of the Scottish people.
    Only a YES vote will empower society to begin the hard work necessary if fuel poverty – and much else besides – is to be tackled once and for all.

    • Blaming Westminster, even when partially justified, is a predictable comment from the Scottish Government. Powers are an issue, but so is political will. The Scottish Government will have to demonstrate a willingness to find the resources to tackle each element of fuel poverty and that includes a discussion about taxation.

  2. Dave, with respect, you are being utterly perverse – the powers, or lack of them, are the core issue, without which political will means nothing. You know that fine well – just as you know that glib comments on the Scottish government ‘finding the resources’ means robbing Peter to pay Paul. Rather than grubbing about looking for pennies at the back of the chair and, worse still, pretending that progress can be made without the same powers of independence our neighbours (including England) take for granted, you ought to be welcoming the benefits to your UNISON members, and Scottish trade unionists in general, that independence brings, an opportunity to mould a genuinely social democrat Scotland, a beacon for others on these Isles.
    And yes, lets talk about taxation – how about making sure we have the powers to build a taxation system that is fair, transparent and, above all, collects the monies that successive London governments (hello Brown & Darling) ensured were siphoned ‘off shore’ by rich individuals and corporations. Wouldn’t it be deliciously ironic if it was a reborn genuinely Scottish Labour party, elected to power in an independent Scotland, that made the fat cats pips squeak?
    Get on board and make it happen.

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