3. What likely impact – direct or indirect – will the policy/measure have on children and young people?
‘Direct’ impact refers to policies/measures where children and young people are directly affected by the proposed changes, e.g. in early years, education, child protection or looked after children (children in care).
‘Indirect’ impact refers to policies/measures that are not directly aimed at children
but will have an impact on them. Examples include: welfare reforms, parental leave, housing supply, or local transport schemes.
In reviewing whether a CRWIA was necessary for the Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill, the published screening report concluded that the Bill may result in some indirect impacts on children connected to:
- A change in heating system in some buildings occupied or used by children;
- Potential savings on heating bills;
- Greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
The first of these impacts was seen to come with potential disruption due to refurbishment. While this will be further explored below (having arisen as an impact in a CRWIA for the Heat in Buildings Strategy) the screening process for the Bill concluded that the long-term positive impacts of heat network installation would benefit occupants. Regarding the Articles of the UNCRC, the below were found to be relevant to the Bill:
- Article 27 – Adequate standard of living – whereby reliable and affordable heating systems will help to provide children with a warm home where the standard is supporting their physical, mental and social development.
- Article 24 – Health and health services – by supplying buildings used and/or occupied by children with reliable and low carbon heat, the increased deployment of heat networks may have a positive influence on the health of children and young people.
However, the impacts of the Bill are indirect and therefore any benefits will be reliant on the deployment of the technology and the quality of the systems installed.
Further details are available in the published CRWIA screening report for the Bill.
The Heat in Buildings Strategy (HBS) was published in November 2021, and constitutes the overarching framework within which the Heat Networks Delivery Plan (HNDP) and resultant 2035 target consultation has been produced. Alongside the HBS, a CRWIA was conducted and published. This assessment concluded that:
- The HBS complies with the UNCRC
- There will be an overall positive impact on children and young people if the Strategy is successful in achieving its goals. (Potential positive impacts included health benefits from reduced in building gas boilers).
- Any potential negative impacts identified are expected to be short term and mitigating actions are identified.
The potential negative impacts highlighted by the HBS CRWIA which are relevant to heat networks and so the 2035 target relate to specific groups of children and young people:
Children with a disability:
- Access and disruption – potential for greater disruption in homes when carrying out installation work; homes may have been adapted for accessibility and there is therefore a need to ensure changes do not negatively affect access/space/layout; disabled people and families often live in poorer quality houses and have additional needs to be met through retrofit process, which can make it harder for providers and installers to reach these households – incentives to deliver targets at low cost have resulted in these households being side lined for support.
- Potential for increased costs – households with a disabled member have higher rates of poverty, below average wealth, increased living costs, and are less likely to be in work. They are also likely to have higher heating and additional retrofit needs (as above), which can increase installation costs
- Child poverty and fuel poverty – we are continuing to build the evidence base on the interactions between our fuel poverty, child poverty and climate commitments, and are applying that knowledge to our policy design and to our programmes, mitigating any risk of unintended consequences, and tracking progress and learning by doing in order to adjust immediately where unintended consequences nevertheless arise.
More detail is available in the published HBS CRWIA -https://www.gov.scot/publications/heat-buildings-strategy-child-rights-wellbeing-impact-assessment/.
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