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 3 - Indicators and assumptions

Good policies are built on a solid evidence base and, at present, the underlying fuel poverty indicators and assumptions, such as SIMD and RdSAP, tend to be urban-oriented and technically-based. They are modelled and currently do not reflect rural realities nor assess and record affordable warmth and comfort improvements effectively - either those required or actually. In other words, all such indicators should be subject to a thorough 'rural-proofing' process and made fit for purpose.

All of the considered actions recommended in this chapter could, and in the Task Force's view should, be implemented given their pivotal importance in ensuring that rural fuel poverty issues are properly assessed and specifically addressed by fuel poverty policies and programmes and so that public spending can be targeted effectively.

3.1 SG to take on the responsibility for commissioning Minimum Income Standard ( MIS) Scotland reports once every 3 years to provide top quality information on cost of living contexts and trends by 6-fold urban & rural classification [2] . This will ensure the final product becomes a recognised national dataset.

3.2 SIMD domains to be expanded to better reflect rural disadvantage e.g. by adding a) a MIS index and b) an energy price index for all fuel types.

3.3 UK Govt through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy ( BEIS) to develop and adopt new modelling matrices that will reliably reflect and track rural and urban average energy consumption levels (using SG's six fold urban / rural classification) and provide comparisons with average dual fuel bills and average bills for each type of fuel. These would make it easier to identify disparity and therefore simpler to target remedial actions.

3.4 SG's Community AnaIytical Services to further develop rural fuel poverty proxies. This should enable them to better assess the effectiveness of spend and delivery of anti-fuel poverty outcomes in rural Scotland.

3.5 SG to use its influence on the next iteration (in two years' time) of the RdSAP tool and Energy Performance Certificate ( EPC) so that they properly reflect:

  • the range and distribution of prevailing climate conditions and other characteristics in rural and urban parts of Scotland, including:
    • effects of draughts and wind-driven rain on heat loss and fabric condition;
    • room-in-roof and wall types;
    • consideration of opportunities to recommend more than one type of cost-effective heating solution; and
    • crucially, but on a comply or explain basis, they should also allow for an approved overrule when the most appropriate improvement measure/s would currently not otherwise be permitted.

3.6 SG to encourage relevant protocol organisations to ensure consistency in the production of such improved RdSAP/ EPC reports through assessor training.

3.7 SG to ensure that any future change to the Fuel Poverty Definition will be developed and used to provide a baseline measure against which progress in delivering specific affordable warmth outcomes, particularly to vulnerable households, can be properly measured.


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