Delivering affordable warmth in rural Scotland: action plan

Report produced by the independent Scottish Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force setting out actions to deliver affordable warmth in rural Scotland.

Chapter 9 - Remediation programme effectiveness

There has been a range of programmes and schemes from both UK and Scottish Government over the last few years that have attempted to address fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions. Overall these schemes have made substantive contributions to improving housing stock and reducing emissions. However, there has been mixed success in how effectively they have delivered their expected outcomes in rural areas.

There have been some significant initial successes with the new Warmer Homes Scotland scheme, which is delivering effectively in both rural and remote rural areas. This builds on the successes of the predecessor schemes of Energy Assistance Programme ( EAP) and Energy Assistance Scheme ( EAS). The same, however, cannot be said for ECO, which is largely urban focussed. The evidence also shows that the number of HEEPS ABS measures installed per thousand of population in rural areas is significantly less than those installed in the rest of Scotland.

Even where success has been achieved, schemes have failed to allow for some of the specific factors that only apply in off-gas rural areas. These include the requirement to replace oil tanks when oil boilers are being replaced or installed, the need for electric wire upgrading when replacing storage heaters and the need for flue lining when installing boilers. Whilst this is not an exclusively rural issue, it does disproportionately affect rural properties where, typically, mains gas heating is not an option. This lack of effective rural proofing is excluding properties which otherwise should be able to gain equal benefit from such measures.

Moreover, although there is a rural uplift for local authorities who deliver HEEPS ABS in rural areas, it amounts to £1,500, which takes the maximum support per property to £9,000. However, the actual cost of delivery in remote rural areas for single houses can be double this amount, which significantly restricts local authorities' ability deliver the support the programme offers. The funding for HEEPS ABS offered by Scottish Government will always favour intervention where the greatest numbers and concentrations of properties will benefit. This is why terraced houses and low rise flats, rather than detached and more isolated properties, have been the main recipients to date of such programme intervention.

The study currently being carried out in South and East Ayrshire points the way to a more integrated and outcome-focused approach to understanding and recording the holistic benefits delivered by energy efficiency measures: by systematically evaluating the impacts of external and internal wall upgrades on the health and well-being of the occupants and on any other significant resulting benefits.

Critical actions which will need to be taken are shown below.

9.1 SG to ensure that all the component parts of the new SEEP and Scottish ECO programmes should be focused to ensure that, first and foremost, all vulnerable households are the priority target.

9.2 SG should also ensure that, wherever clients live in rural and remote Scotland, the programmes must be capable of actually delivering the rates of grant funding support required to fully meet the potentially higher costs of installs.

9.3 SG to develop criteria by which they can ensure their new powers over Social Security, Winter Fuel and Cold Weather Payments prioritise householders in greatest fuel poverty / affordable warmth need and take full account of the locality effects of cold, wind and rain.


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