SNP minister urged to set out fuel poverty plans

HOUSING Minister Margaret Burgess will be urged to set out how a key target to eradicate fuel poverty can “realistically be achieved”, as she attends a national conference on the issue.

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess is expected to set out fuel poverty plans. Picture: Jane Barlow

The two-day conference, being held in Peebles, has been organised by charity Energy Action Scotland and will be attended by a range of agencies, charities and companies from across the country.

It comes after experts warned the Scottish Government’s target to eradicate fuel poverty in Scotland, as far as is reasonably practicable, by November 2016 will not be met.

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A household is defined as being in fuel poverty if in order to maintain satisfactory heating, it would be required to spend more than 10 per cent of its income on all fuel use.

Government figures show 940,000 households were in fuel poverty in 2013.

Ms Burgess said the SNP administration has invested £0.5 billion since 2009 on a raft of fuel poverty and energy efficiency programmes, and provided £119 million this year for such measures.

“The new Warmer Homes Scotland scheme, worth up to £224 million over the next seven years, will help as many as 28,000 Scots heat their homes,” Ms Burgess said.

“Through this scheme, we will deliver the best possible help to thousands of people who are blighted by fuel poverty, struggling to keep their homes warm and pay their energy bills.”

Energy Action Scotland director Norman Kerr said: “Making sure that people can afford the basic right of living in a warm home is our key objective.

“With the target date to end fuel poverty exactly one year away, we are pressing the Scottish Government to set out how this can realistically be achieved.

“We are inviting the minister and her colleagues in Government to tap into the knowledge, practical experience and technical solutions that those working in the fuel poverty field - and indeed people experiencing fuel poverty - can bring forward to end the blight of this problem in Scotland.”