Fuel poverty

Cost of living crisis: find out what help is available


We published the final Fuel Poverty Strategy on 23 December 2021. It includes 55 actions to tackle the four drivers of fuel poverty:

  • poor energy efficiency of the home
  • high energy costs
  • low household income
  • how energy is used in the home

The statutory Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel was established from 1 January 2022.  Members appointments were announced at the end of 2021. The appointments are for four years and will run from 1 January 2022 until 31 December 2025.

The panel will provide external scrutiny of our progress towards meeting the fuel poverty targets. We are consulting with the panel about next steps on the strategy. We will also continue to work closely with them alongside the Poverty and Inequality Commission to shape advice to Scottish Ministers.

Fuel insecurity Fund

In winter 2020, we established the first Fuel Insecurity Fund. The fund was increased in March 2023. We have worked with third sector partners to provide direct emergency funds to those who were at risk of self-disconnection or self-rationing their energy.

Anyone can be supported regardless of which home they live in or fuel type they use. Although developed as part of our Covid winter support, the fund is now a critical part of our support to people because of the  increases to energy costs.

The fund is delivered through our third sector partner network which includes:

For 2023 - 2024 we will bring a fourth delivery partner on board. The Wise Group, will deliver a more holistic, long-term and sustainable approach towards lifting households out of fuel poverty alongside tackling poverty more generally.

There is more information available about our partner funding.  

The fund also provides direct core investment to Energy Action Scotland. 

Fuel Poverty Act

The Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Act was passed by Parliament and received Royal Assent on 18 July 2019.

It set statutory targets for reducing fuel poverty and introduced a new definition which aligns fuel poverty more closely with relative income poverty.

Scottish ministers produced a comprehensive strategy to show how they intended to meet the targets. 

The development of this legislation was informed by the recommendations put forward by the Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group and the Scottish Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force. They both reported in October 2016, and by a consultation which was held between November 2017 and February 2018.

Fuel poverty targets

The statutory targets set by the 2019 Act are that by the end of 2040:

  • no more than 5% of households will be in fuel poverty
  • no more than 1% of households will be in extreme fuel poverty
  • the median fuel poverty gap of households in fuel poverty is no more than £250 in 2015 prices before adding inflation

These  targets must be achieved within each of the 32 local authority areas and not just in Scotland as a whole. This is to ensure that no part of the country is left behind. 

There are also interim targets set for the same metrics at 2030 and 2035. However the interim targets only need to be met at a national level.

Fuel poverty definition

The 2019 Act establishes a new two-part definition. A  fuel-poor household is one where:

  • more than 10% (20% for extreme fuel poverty) of  net income is required to pay for their reasonable fuel needs after housing costs have been deducted
  • the remaining household income is not enough to maintain an acceptable standard of living, defined as at least 90% of the UK Minimum Income Standard (MIS) once childcare costs and disability or care benefits are deducted

The legislation provides for uplifts to be applied to the MIS for households rural and island communities to take into account the higher cost of living in these areas. 

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