Chapter 6 - Accountability and Scrutiny
Both working groups stressed the importance of robust monitoring and evaluation of the development and delivery of the forthcoming fuel poverty strategy. They made a number of recommendations for the Scottish Government around accountability and scrutiny including:
- Work with local authorities and other stakeholders to design and implement accountability arrangements for national and local government and other agencies working in collaboration on fuel poverty;
- Establish robust and transparent scrutiny arrangements to oversee progress of the new fuel poverty strategy;
- Explore ways in which protection could be improved for consumers using unregulated fuels;
- Establish a monitoring and evaluation framework for the new fuel poverty strategy and for SEEP and report results regularly;
- Set up a cross-departmental ministerial group to lead the new fuel poverty strategy
- Properly monitor and assess the practical effectiveness of fuel poverty / affordable warmth programme outcomes;
- Further develop rural fuel poverty proxies to enable better assessment of the effectiveness of spend; and
- Cost the new fuel poverty strategy based on requirements to meet its desired outcome and make adequate resources (funding and capacity) available at a national and local level on a multi-year basis.
This Chapter addresses the following recommendations:
Strategic Working Group Recommended Actions
|SWG 45||SWG 46||SWG 47||SWG 48||SWG 50||SWG 51||SWG 52||SWG 53||SWG 54||SWG 55||SWG 56|
Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force Recommended Actions
|TF 3||TF 4||TF 5||TF 6||TF 7||TF 10||TF 37||TF 51|
*please refer to Annex A of this report for full details of each recommended action
What the working groups said
The Strategic Working Group recommended there should be collaboration, in both local and national government, to design and implement accountability arrangements. The Strategic Working Group recommended that the fuel poverty strategy should be set on a statutory basis, including targets and requirements to measure progress. The Group also recommended wider scrutiny of the overall approach to poverty reduction, including fuel poverty, and that this should be delivered through a cross-ministerial working group that would scrutinise delivery and require annual reporting from Ofgem. This collaborative approach should be matched at a local level. It also recommended that the Fuel Poverty Forum has an important ongoing role but that its role and remit are reviewed.
Both groups recommended that current monitoring arrangements are widened to include the consumer experience of fuel poverty programmes; to look further at consumer protection issues, particularly around District Heating and unregulated fuels; and to review the mechanisms by which eligibility for Scottish Government programmes is assessed to ensure those most in need are prioritised. The Strategic Working Group recommended that the new Consumer Scotland Agency should play a key role in terms of consumer protection.
The Task Force further recommended that the Scottish Government puts in place measures to better assess the effectiveness of spend and delivery of anti-fuel poverty outcomes in rural Scotland. This includes 3-yearly publication of the Minimum Income Standards in Rural Scotland; expansion of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation to better reflect rural circumstances; development of new modelling matrices with the UK Government; and publication of rural proxies around fuel poverty.
The Strategic Working Group recommended that the new fuel poverty strategy is fully costed for delivery and is financially feasible for equitable delivery throughout Scotland.
What the Scottish Government is doing
We recognise that monitoring and evaluation is an important aspect of the forthcoming fuel poverty strategy and will consult on this as part of our wider consultation on the strategy later this year. We encourage all interested parties to engage in that consultation to inform the strategy.
Fuel poverty encompasses a wide range of policy areas and we agree that there should be a joined up approach to tackling the issues. We will convene a summit of relevant Ministers with an interest in these issues in autumn 2017 to harness opportunities for joint-working across portfolios and inform development of the fuel poverty strategy.
The Minister for Local Government and Housing has been regularly attending meetings of the Fuel Poverty Forum and wishes to continue that engagement. In addition, we will work with the current Chair to review the Forum's future role. This will include considering what changes need to be made to the Forum's remit to ensure it is well-positioned to monitor progress on tackling fuel poverty and the actions set out in this response. The Forum will also have an active role in the review of the fuel poverty definition, development of the strategy and setting of a new target.
As part of the development of SEEP we have specific workstreams exploring many of the issues set out by the groups in relation to accountability and scrutiny, including monitoring and evaluation and delivery of programmes. The consultation on SEEP that forms part of the draft Energy Strategy will give an initial opportunity for stakeholders to comment on the shape of how these areas are developed.
We recognise the importance of appropriate data, and action has already been taken in recent months that will resolve some of the concerns set out relating to how relevant some of the methodologies are to real life. For example, we published a tool in October 2016 called ' The likelihood of being fuel poor in rural Scotland' which helps address the Task Force's recommendation on further developing rural fuel poverty proxies.
The Scottish Government is committed to the following actions:
- We will include, in the consultation on the Fuel Poverty Strategy, detailed proposals for monitoring and evaluation;
- We will convene a summit of Ministers from across Scottish Government in autumn 2017 as part of our development of a new Fuel Poverty Strategy;
- The Minister for Local Government and Housing will continue to engage with the Fuel Poverty Forum; and
- We will review the role and remit of the Fuel Poverty Forum to ensure it is well-positioned to monitor progress on tackling fuel poverty and the actions set out in this response.
Email: Central Enquiry Unit