Demand for urgent review as fuel poverty targets set to be missed

Plans to reduce the number of Scots living in fuel poverty by increasing the energy efficiency of social housing will not be met by 2032, despite a £2 million spending splurge by housing associations.

Housing associations have called for a review of fuel poverty targets.
Housing associations have called for a review of fuel poverty targets.

A new report by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) blames the Covid-19 pandemic for derailing progress and timescales, with the organisation predicting that the total percentage of households in fuel poverty will only be reduced from 38 per cent to 29 per cent over the next 11 years.

It is now calling for the Scottish Government to carry out an urgent and comprehensive review of its plans to make social housing more energy efficient.

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Currently all social housing is expected to meet an energy efficiency rating of band B by the end of 2032, within the limits of cost, technology and tenant consent.

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However new research by the SFHA has shown that just seven per cent of current housing association stock currently meets that rating and while installing all the improvements needed to remaining properties, including insulation and boiler upgrades, would see this rise to 41 per cent, that would still leave 59 per cent of the stock unable to meet the target rating.

The report also found that while 49 per cent of housing associations had started work to meet the target, 65 per cent said their plans would take more than 10 years to implement and 80 per cent found sourcing funding and capital investment for the measures either ‘very challenging’ or ‘extremely challenging’.

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Key among the challenges for 26 per cent of the organisations was upgrading Victorian or sandstone tenements, pre-1919 or older properties, off-gas properties, mixed-tenure properties – and those with restrictions on upgrades as they are listed or in conservation areas.

Sally Thomas, SFHA Chief Executive, said: “The social housing sector has the most energy efficient homes in Scotland, and the Scottish Government’s energy efficiency standards have helped to drive this.

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"Good quality, warm, energy efficient homes have a key role to play in helping to tackle climate change and fuel poverty, and our members are working hard to try and combat these issues and meet the targets. However, it’s clear from our research that considerable challenges stand in the way of meeting the target such as funding, measurement methods and timescales.”

She added: “We are keen to work with the Scottish Government, so we can find a solution to these challenges, and our members can continue to increase the energy efficiency of their homes, tackle fuel poverty and play their part in contributing to the net-zero and climate change targets.”

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We remain committed to ending fuel poverty entirely and have the most ambitious and comprehensive fuel poverty legislation on this in the UK.

"By the end of 2021, we will have allocated over £1bn since 2009 to tackling fuel poverty and improving the energy efficiency of people’s homes to make them warmer and cheaper to heat. Ground-breaking investment of £1.6bn over the next five years is now underway to help transform the heating and energy efficiency performance of Scotland’s buildings still further.

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“The second milestone of Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing will help remove poor energy efficiency as a driver for fuel poverty and contribute to achieving our emissions reductions targets.”

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