1. The Scottish Government is committed to achieving a fairer and more just society where everyone has a warm comfortable home that is affordable to heat. As a Government we have invested significantly in making people’s homes more energy efficient and easier and cheaper to heat. Despite this, there are still people living in fuel poverty, struggling to afford to heat their homes. That is why we have set ambitious targets to reduce fuel poverty in the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill (the Fuel Poverty Bill). Under this legislation we have also established a new definition of fuel poverty that more closely aligns fuel poverty with income poverty.
2. The Fuel Poverty Bill sets out the various factors that are considered in the definition of both fuel poverty and extreme fuel poverty, including the requisite temperature and number of hours the home should be heated. We call this the ‘heating regime’. The type of heating regime used dictates the estimated costs that would be needed to provide households across Scotland with a sufficiently warm home. We recognise that some people are more vulnerable to the effects of a cold home and should heat their home with either higher temperatures, longer hours or both in order to have a healthy living environment. We are describing this as an enhanced heating regime.
3. The Fuel Poverty Bill sets out the standard heating temperatures as 21 degrees Celsius for the living room, 18 degrees Celsius for any other room and the standard heating hours as 9 hours a day on a weekday and 16 hours a day at the weekend. The enhanced heating temperatures are 23 degrees Celsius for the living room and 20 degrees Celsius for any other room and the enhanced heating hours are 16 hours a day. The Scottish Fuel Poverty Definition Review Panel (the Panel) recommended these temperatures as they are in line with the established World Health Organisation Guidelines and the Scottish Government accepted these recommendations, setting the temperatures on the face of the Fuel Poverty Bill.
4. The Fuel Poverty Bill allows for three enhanced heating regimes, applying either higher temperatures, longer hours or both. The Bill specifies that Ministers may make regulations specifying the types of households for which the enhanced heating temperatures and the enhanced heating hours are appropriate. This consultation sets out the three enhanced heating regimes and seeks views on which households they should be applied to.
5. We have already undertaken significant stakeholder engagement and consultation on the Fuel Poverty Bill and the draft Fuel Poverty Strategy and this consultation builds on the feedback already received. This consultation will run for 8 weeks and will close on 16 August 2019. This is shorter than the normal consultation period of 12 weeks to allow for the lead in time that will be required to amend the Scottish Housing Condition Survey (SHCS). The SHCS is an annual survey used to measure levels of fuel poverty in Scotland (and for other purposes) and we will need to ensure that this includes the questions necessary to identify those households for which an enhanced heating regime is applicable. The shortened timescale will ensure that the 2020 SHCS can be conducted with the required questions that will allow us to apply the new definition of fuel poverty in calculating fuel poverty levels. We anticipate that the regulations, made under section 2(4) of the Act will be laid in the Scottish Parliament in September 2019 after the consultation responses have been fully analysed and considered.