50 groups urge '˜real action' on fuel poverty

Some 50 organisations from across Scotland have joined forces to call for 'real action' from the government in tackling fuel poverty.
Over half a million households are in fuel povertyOver half a million households are in fuel poverty
Over half a million households are in fuel poverty

The groups, led by the Existing Homes Alliance, fear the Scottish Government’s planned Warm Homes Bill will be a missed opportunity unless steps are taken to beef up the legislation.

Ministers have already committed that the bill will enshrine in legislation their “long-term ambition to eradicate fuel poverty”.

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But the groups – including trade unions, environmental campaigners, the Church of Scotland, businesses and others – want politicians to “ensure that Scotland gets the Warm Homes Bill it was promised and that it deserves”.

The latest figures showed 649,000 households were classed as being in fuel poverty in 2016.

Lori McElroy, chairwoman of the Existing Homes Alliance, said: “More than a quarter of Scottish households are still living in fuel poverty – the same proportion who faced cold homes a decade ago – and over a million homes fall below the energy efficiency standard needed for our health. All political parties agree this is unacceptable in a modern, wealthy country. The promised Warm Homes Bill represented a once in a generation opportunity for change.

“But the Scottish Government is in danger of failing to grasp that opportunity. The proposed Fuel Poverty Bill is far too narrow, focused just on creating a new definition of fuel poverty and setting new fuel poverty targets.

“This is incredibly important, but we can do so much more. So today we are calling on the Scottish Government and all MSPs to ensure that Scotland gets the Warm Homes Bill it was promised and that it deserves.”

The 50 groups all want the Bill to include long term targets for improving energy performance with clear timescales for action, as well as incentives for homes to be made more energy efficient.

In addition they want to ensure everyone can benefit from affordable heat, regardless of where they live, their housing type and income. Groups that have joined in the coalition include Age Scotland, the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers and the British Lung Foundation Scotland.