Fuel Poverty Forum minutes: December 2017

Minutes of the Scottish Fuel Poverty Forum meeting in December 2017.

Attendees and apologies


  • Norrie Kerr (NK) Energy Action Scotland (Forum Deputy Chair)
  • Alison McKean (AMK) Scottish Power
  • Chris Bell (CB) SSE
  • Donna Burnett (DB) NHS Health Scotland
  • Lindsey Restrick (LR) SSE
  • Lisa Glass (LG) Shelter
  • Mike Thornton (MT) Energy Saving Trust
  • Stephen Cunningham (SC) SHEEN
  • Suzanne Taylor (ST) SP Energy Networks
  • Jim Eadie (JE) Age Scotland
  • Kate Morrison (KM) Citizens Advice Scotland

In Attendance

  • Angus Macleod (AMacl) Scottish Government
  • Ann McKenzie (AMcK) Scottish Government
  • Ailie Clarkson (AC) Scottish Government
  • Silvia Palombi (SP) Scottish Government
  • Saskia Kearns (SK) (Secretariat) Scottish Government
  • Lorraine Forrester (LF) (observer) Scottish Government


  • Alan Ferguson Existing Homes Alliance (Forum Chair)
  • Carol Aitken Scottish Gas
  • David Stewart SFHA
  • John Wood COSLA
  • Laura McGadie Energy Saving Trust
  • Phil Mackie Scottish Public Health Network
  • Michael Sozansky Ofgem
  • Simon O’Loughlin SSE
  • Craig Salter Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Gillian Noble Scottish Power
  • Claire Doherty Scottish Power
  • Angela McLachlan Shelter
  • Vicky Kelsell Scottish Power Networks
  • John Dickie Child Poverty Action Group
  • Peter Kelly The Poverty Alliance
  • Claire Telfer Save the Children
  • Shona Fisher Ofgem

Items and actions

1. Opening comment from Chair

NK welcomed everyone in attendance to the meeting.

2. (a) Apologies and Minutes of Last Meeting

Apologies – as detailed above.

Conflicts of Interest – none reported at the time of the meeting.

Minutes of meeting held on 28 August 2017 – no corrections to be made, Forum members approved draft for publishing.

  • NK informed the Forum that he successfully gave evidence at the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee, on 26 October 2017, regarding the Social Security Bill in the context of fuel poverty. He thanked Age Scotland for their support in co-presenting at this session. The official report of the Committee meeting has now been published at: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11155 .

Matters Arising

  • Page 3 of Minute – SC requested an update on the intention for the Fuel Poverty Definition Review Panel to hold a workshop with Forum members to discuss initial findings. AF confirmed the workshop went ahead on 1 August.

Action Plan – Outstanding Actions

  • As this was the final meeting of the current Fuel Poverty Forum, ahead of the new governance arrangements approved by the Minister taking effect from 2018, no further Actions were added to the Forum’s tracker.
  • All previous Actions recorded following the Forum’s meeting on 28 August were confirmed as having been completed.

(b) Update on Changes to the Forum’s Governance Structure

  • AMac indicated that the Minister for Local Government & Housing, Mr Kevin Stewart MSP, had now approved the proposed changes to the governance structure of the existing Fuel Poverty Forum, including the organisational membership of the new groups to be created, the Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel and Partnership Forum. Invitations to new members will issue in January 2018.
  • LG asked how the invitations for the new Partnership Forum will be communicated – AMac indicated that the Minister will write to each organisation highlighting the date for the first meeting of the new group, if identified at that time.
  • KM asked whether those invited to become members of the new Advisory Panel will also sit on the new Partnership Forum – AMac confirmed this would be the case.

(c) Two-part Agenda

  • NK highlighted that the meeting would proceed according to a two-part Agenda:

  • Part 1 would concern the Scottish Government’s current fuel poverty consultation; and

  • Part 2 would involve a presentation by Scottish Government analysts of the new Scottish Housing Condition Survey (SHCS) statistics for 2016, as published on 5 December. PART 1

3. Fuel Poverty Strategy Consultation Engagement Event

(a) Presentation & Discussion

  • AMcK and SP provided a joint presentation on the on-going Scottish Government public consultation on a new draft fuel poverty strategy, including a new definition of fuel poverty and targets (statutory and non-statutory). The presentation followed the same format as the separate public consultation engagement events being delivered by the Scottish Government during the period from November 2017 to January 2018, with a key focus on the following topics:

  • Definition

  • Proposed target, sub-targets and interim milestones
  • Partnership working
  • Challenges for rural and/or island communities
  • Monitoring, evaluation and reporting

  • Discussion and questions raised by Forum Members concerned, for example:

  • Making more explicit the link between eradicating fuel poverty and the focus on removing energy efficiency as a driver of it – key to discussion on this point was that the new strategy must be clear that ‘using less energy’ is not the same as ‘decreasing demand for energy’, and that the latter impacts on overall carbon emissions, or climate change targets.

  • How best ‘vulnerability’ should be defined, specifically in relation to discussions on the new proposed heating regimes and age threshold under the new definition of fuel poverty, and the concern that some people who may be vulnerable to the ill-health effects of fuel poverty will be overlooked.
  • The extent to which the proposed new targets for eradicating fuel poverty are ambitious enough, and within a reasonable timeframe, with suggestions including the need for additional interim milestones to be considered in the run up to 2040. It was felt that this would enable the Scottish Government to retain flexibility over time and to realign policies or actions at an appropriate point if required, in order to ensure continued progress towards achieving the new targets.
  • There was also discussion concerning the need for the targets, if they are felt to be ambitious enough, to be explained in this context and for the challenges that are foreseen to be overcome via the strategy to be made more explicit in the draft. By being more explicit in this way it was felt that progress across different policy areas towards achieving the new targets may be quicker.
  • Opportunities and challenges faced by rural and island communities in the context of the new draft fuel poverty strategy, with an emphasis being placed on the importance of the vulnerable [to fuel poverty] not being the last to benefit from identified opportunities.
  • The importance of advocacy [for those vulnerable to fuel poverty] in the context of partnership working, and the issue [constraint] of year-on-year funding programmes for local support delivery organisations. It was further felt that targeted promotion of service / support provision was necessary.
  • How different [local] organisations involved in support provision can better partner with national level providers, such as Home Energy Scotland. One suggestion included asking or encouraging local organisations to market their service with the added caption, “supporting HES”, in order to raise awareness amongst recipients of the cross-sector engagement and endorsement of the support on offer. This recognition of the fact that there are several organisations supporting the HES service, and vice versa, was seen as a two-way relationship.
  • How to streamline and integrate the reporting requirements placed on [local] service and support delivery organisations.
  • The role and purpose of any new “doorstep” tool introduced – emphasis was placed on the need not to “reinvent the wheel” and to take advantage of existing tools/data/programmes.

  • NK encouraged Members to respond formally to the public consultation to ensure that their views were heard by Ministers.


4. SHCS Presentation on Published Statistics (2016)

  • AC and SP presented an overview of the high-level findings concerning fuel poverty levels from the SHCS statistics for 2016, published on 5 December 2017.

5. Round Up & Close

  • NK reminded the Members that this was the last meeting of the existing Fuel Poverty Forum, ahead of the new governance changes being introduced. He thanked everyone for their input and participation in the group, and also thanked the Scottish Government for its support to enable the group to operate effectively.

Date of next meeting: N/A

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