Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group minutes: July 2016

Record of discussion for the July 2016 meeting of the Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group.

Attendees and apologies


David Sigsworth, Chair (DS), Elizabeth Leighton (EL), Alan Ferguson (AF), Donna Burnett (DB), Norman Kerr (NK), Gordon Grant (GG), Trisha McAuley (TM), Ade Kearns (AC)


Angus Macleod (AM), Scottish Government


Teresa Bray, Tony Cain, Marion Davis

In attendance

Christine McArthur (CMcA), note taker

Items and actions

DS welcomed everyone to the meeting.

1. Minutes of the previous meeting

Minutes of the meeting held on 26 May 2016 were circulated prior to this meeting. These were approved.

Update from minutes

Ofgem: Meeting took place that was very productive. Ofgem is having to think differently given the new political landscape. EL will follow-up with Ofgem.

DECC ECO Consultation. This is for the 2017/18 year. The SWG has decided not to respond to this. GG suggested we write to DECC saying that we are aware of the consultation and outline our current views.

Sub Group 2 – Workshop. A note of this meeting was circulated in advance.
EL’s key point was that many services within government, and within the community, are fragmented. The dots need to be joined up to enable people to gain access to all help. DB referred to the approach suggested at the workshop by Jim McCormick, Associate Director Scotland for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. He proposed a rights based system where people would be expected to have the benefit of a warm dry home. Those living without that benefit would not be required to prove poverty to access services.

Group Chairs meeting: A meeting took place between the chairs of the Scottish Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force (RFPTF), The Scottish Fuel Poverty Forum (FPF) and SWG. It was recognised that the FPF needs to be kept fully abreast of recommendations from the RFPTF and the SWG as they would ultimately be responsible for taking forward the agreed outcomes. It was also noted that the RFPTF had been asked to collaborate with interested parties to gauge the impact that their recommendations might have on fuel poverty programmes in urban areas.

2. Interim Findings

On 21st June 2016 DS sent a report containing the agreed interim findings from SWG to Angela Constance MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities. DS subsequently had a meeting with Kevin Stewart MSP, the Minister for Local Government and Housing, when the findings were discussed. The following day questions were asked in Parliament and it was announced that the target to eradicate fuel poverty by November 2016 would not be met.

Building on the SWG interim findings, Kevin Stewart MSP wrote letters to the Chairs of Local Community Planning Partnerships encouraging closer working relationships to eradicate fuel poverty. He also contacted Shona Robinson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, seeking permission to write to NHS leads for Health Boards to do the same.

SWG members discussed how they could reinforce these messages to gain maximum benefit. Several follow up actions were agreed but the moves to engender joint cabinet ownership of the aim of eradicating fuel poverty were welcomed.

3. Final Report

Members discussed the process of finalising the SWG report and the expectations surrounding its completion. The following was agreed:

  • The group expected the Scottish Government would want to announce their plans for a new fuel poverty strategy on the back of the SWG and RFPTF reports in the autumn. The November deadline for the current eradication target would be a key trigger.
  • Plans were in place to submit the final SWG report in mid-October. The status of the report once submitted was unclear, particularly in respect of the SWG authority to publicise and discuss the contents. AM agreed to clarify the government’s position.
  • The group’s wish is to see the report initially welcomed by the government in a high level response and for the recommendations to be endorsed and implemented in full. It is hoped that the initial response contains a timetable for a more detailed statement that should include a table of the recommendations with the governments planned action on each.

4. Priority Action Goals

Members discussed what priority actions should be sought in any discussions with the government in the lead-up to, and following, submission of the final report. The following were agreed as an initial cut with a commitment to on-going review as the report matures:

Short Term Actions

  • Capitalise on early win-wins by making commitments in the government’s initial high-level response. Some of the following could be considered.
  • Launch review of definition
  • Recommend increase in funding for fuel poverty
  • SEEP pilot – next round to explore our recommendations (e.g. local partnerships); SEEP vision and objectives to reflect our recommendations
  • Ministerial subcommittee – joining up action with lead responsibility
  • Fuel poverty explicitly recognised in relevant emerging government strategies e.g. Fairer Scotland, Energy Strategy

Longer Term Action

  • Proposal for Warm Homes Bill (e.g. statutory basis for fuel poverty strategy)

In conclusion EL reminded the group that work had now started on drafting the final report and that any further comments on sub-group papers must be with her by Monday 18th July.

5. Meeting with Naomi Eisenstadt author of ‘Shifting the Curve’

The Group was reminded that a meeting was scheduled for Tuesday 19 July. An agenda was circulated at the meeting.

6. Date of Next meeting

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 11 August. This meeting will start with a stakeholders meeting in the morning and finish with a full Group meeting after lunch. Please note the meeting will take place at the Technology & Innovation Centre, 99 George Street, Glasgow as the EAS meeting room is too small.

Post Meeting Presentation

Following the main meeting the Group had a presentation from Eddie Fraser, Director of Public Health and Social Care, East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership. Eddie outlined that wellbeing is one of three key priorities at the heart of the East Ayrshire Community Plan. They are committed to multidisciplinary/multi-agency locality working to tackle their wellbeing challenges. This aligns with the arrangements SWG is proposing in their interim findings for addressing fuel poverty.

Their model of integrated working that has multidisciplinary locality teams working around individuals and small communities to improve their health and wellbeing. A locality might be a school, a GP Practice, or other.

The multi-disciplinary teams in East Ayrshire take a whole person approach and everything is captured in this: education; local community facilities; social care; housing; etc. Practitioners work with individuals and communities to identify what is needed to improve their wellbeing and respond to this, using services and resources from across the Community Planning Partnership (including third sector and business).

Challenges exist in community engagement where there is no recognisable community in some areas and this is something they are working through. The group were supportive of the approach taken by East Ayrshire Council via their Community Plan and thanked Eddie Fraser for his presentation and for being able to discuss the council's approach in securing a more focused approach to support its residents.


Email: christine.mcarthur@eas.org.uk

Telephone: 0141 226 3264

Scottish Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group
Energy Action Scotland
Suite 4a Ingram House
227 Ingram Street
G1 1DA

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