Local Housing Strategy Guidance

Guidance for local authorities to assist in the preparation of Local Housing Strategies.

11. Sustainable Housing: Fuel Poverty and Climate Change

11.1 Addressing Climate change and fuel poverty are key priorities for Scottish Ministers. Local authorities, through both their strategic role and wealth of local knowledge and action, have a significant part to play in ensuring that people live in warm, dry, energy efficient, low carbon homes which they can afford to heat. This guidance should be read in conjunction with the Sustainable Housing: Fuel Poverty and Climate Change Advice Note http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/Housing/supply-demand/deliveryframework/lhs/Advicenote

Fuel Poverty


11.2 The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001, Section 89(5)(b), places a statutory duty on Scottish Ministers 'to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that people are not living in fuel poverty in Scotland by November 2016'. The Act requires Local Authorities to develop an LHS that aims to ensure that, "so far as reasonably practicable, persons do not live in fuel poverty." This obligation relates to housing in all tenures.

11.3 Section 95 of the Act, defines a household as being fuel poor if it is living in a home which cannot be kept warm at reasonable cost. The Scottish Fuel Poverty Statement refines this definition to say a household is in fuel poverty if, in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime, it would be required to spend more than 10% of its income, including Housing Benefit and Income Support for Mortgage Interest, on household fuel use. This more precise definition assists the monitoring of progress and is the definition against which Scottish Government fuel poverty policy objectives are developed.

11.4 The currently accepted, satisfactory heating regime means achieving for elderly and infirm households a temperature of 23°C in the living room and 18°C in other rooms, for 16 hours in every 24. For other households a temperature of 21°C in the living room and 18°C in other rooms should be achieved, for a period of 9 hours in every 24 (or 16 in 24 over the weekend) - with 2 hours being in the morning and 7 hours in the evening.

11.5 The Scottish Government's Fuel Poverty Statement http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2002/08/15258/9962 identified the 3 main factors that influence the level of fuel poverty as:

  • fuel prices
  • household incomes
  • energy efficiency of the housing stock

11.6 The relationship between these three factors is a dynamic one and a household can move into, or out of fuel poverty at different times and for a variety of different reasons.

Climate Change


11.7 The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 created a statutory framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It requires emissions to be reduced by 42% by 2020 and at least 80% by 2050. It also requires Scottish Ministers to set annual emissions targets, as well as including measures relating to adaptation, energy efficiency and waste reduction.

11.8 To achieve Scotland's world leading targets concerted and co-ordinated action is required across the public and private sectors, by central and local government, and at individual and community level. Local authorities have a key part to play in achieving a shift towards a more sustainable, low-carbon economy.

11.9 Section 44 of the 2009 Act places duties on public bodies relating to climate change. The duties require that a public body must, in exercising its functions, act:

  • in the way best calculated to contribute to the delivery of the Act's emission reduction targets
  • in the way best calculated to deliver any statutory adaptation programme
  • in a way that it considers most sustainable

11.10 This echoes the declarations made by all 32 local authorities who signed Scotland's Climate Change Declaration: http://www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/sustainability-climate-change/sustainable-scotland-network/climate-change/scotlands-climate-change-declaration/ in 2007, committing to working with communities to mitigate and respond to climate change.

11.11 The Public Bodies Climate Change Duties Guidance: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/340746/0113071.pdf recognises the importance of housing in achieving climate change targets. A key message of the guidance is that public bodies should address climate change in their main business planning activities. The LHS has an important role in linking action on climate change with mainstream housing and fuel poverty policies, and in defining the overall outcomes sought in the sector.

11.12 In 2012, greenhouse gas emissions from housing accounted for 13.7% (not including electricity) of Scotland's total emissions. If electricity is included it is closer to 25%. A household's greenhouse gas emissions are influenced by a number of factors:

  • property condition - houses in a state of disrepair use more energy to heat and are harder to keep warm
  • energy efficiency rating - houses with a poor energy efficiency rating ( EPC G and F) use more energy to heat than the most efficient properties ( EPC A and B). A property's energy efficiency is affected by the presence (or absence) of measures such as loft and cavity wall insulation.
  • property heating - the type of fuel used to heat a property can affect its greenhouse gas emissions e.g. oil heated homes have higher emissions than those heated by gas, whilst low-carbon or renewable heat sources, for example heat pumps, biomass, solar thermal, connection to low carbon or renewable district heating, etc. offer even lower carbon emissions. The age and efficiency of heating devices, e.g. gas boilers, also affects the level of emissions.
  • occupant behaviours - the way people operate their homes can affect carbon emissions, e.g. not using the heating thermostat and programmer efficiently, leaving lights on unnecessarily, etc.

11.13 Scotland's Sustainable Housing Strategy sets out the Scottish Government's vision for warm, high quality, affordable, low carbon homes: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/06/6324

It draws together what is being done to incentivise people to install energy efficiency measures; examines the role of standards in the private and social housing sectors; and considers the potential for transformation of the market for sustainable housing. The draft Heat Generation Policy Statement: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0044/00445639.pdf sets out the approach to deliver an affordable and effective heating and cooling framework for Scotland through to 2050. This includes targets for district heating including a proposed target of 40,000 homes to be supplied with affordable low carbon heat through district heating and communal heating by 2020.

11.14 Scotland is already feeling the effects of climate change, with rising temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events, and we need to adapt to this changing climate. Adaptation means adjustment to economic, social or natural systems in response to actual or expected climate change, to limit harmful consequences and exploit beneficial opportunities. The UK Risk Assessment provides an assessment of the current and predicted threats and opportunities from climate change facing Scotland up until 2100. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69487/pb13698-climate-risk-assessment.pdf. The Scottish Government's Climate Change Adaptation Programme sets the direction for adaptation across all sectors: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Environment/climatechange/scotlands-action/adaptation/AdaptationProgramme.

LHS Considerations

a) Demonstrate a clear understanding of the national fuel poverty priorities and targets and the links between fuel poverty and energy efficiency and other policy areas, such as climate change.

b) Show how housing contributes to climate change through house condition, stock characteristics, levels of energy efficiency and set out the improvements needed.

c) Demonstrate a clear understanding of fuel poverty locally by:

  • defining the extent, location and nature of fuel poverty
  • explaining the contributing factors that influence levels of fuel poverty locally
  • highlight the root causes of fuel poverty locally and if appropriate, how these differ from national trends.

d) Set out how the local authority will use all available resources to achieve the maximum contribution for tackling fuel poverty and reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and maximise uptake in the numbers of householders and property owners benefitting from eligible fuel poverty and energy efficiency programmes.

e) Set out what will be done to accelerate the rate of improvement in the owner-occupied and private-rented sectors, whilst maintaining rates of improvement in the social sector.

f) Set out details of the programmes and actions required to meet fuel poverty and climate change targets. Set robust fuel poverty outcomes and targets with indicators to measure progress, making particular reference to the Home Energy Efficiency Programme Scotland: Area Based Schemes ( HEEPS: ABS), what the funding will be used for and what it is hoped will be achieved.

g) Be clear on the implications for housing from any plans for major energy infrastructure, such as district heating.

h) Show an understanding of how a changing climate may affect the housing stock. Identify threats and opportunities, the vulnerability of different groups to climate risks, and set out and prioritise what needs to be done to manage climate risks.

i) Show how tackling fuel poverty assists in addressing local issues with BTS housing.


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