A Scotland without fuel poverty is a fairer Scotland: report

Report by the Scottish Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group proposing a fresh approach to delivering affordable warmth and energy use in Scotland.

Full list of recommendations

Section Responsible Party
Section 2. Fuel Poverty and Social Justice - Vision and Framing
1 Vision p21: The Scottish Government should place the new fuel poverty strategy firmly within the government's plans to tackle poverty and inequalities. Scottish Government
2 Vision p23: The Scottish Government should involve people who are experiencing fuel poverty in the development of the new fuel poverty strategy, and in its delivery and evaluation. The experience of the Poverty Truth Commission would be useful in this respect. Scottish Government
Section 3. Address all Four Drivers of Fuel Poverty
3.1 Raising incomes
3.1.1 Social Security System
3 Incomes p24: National and local governments should enhance existing efforts to maximise benefits through working with a wider range of local partners who understand the challenges of applying for benefits and the stigma of self-identifying as 'poor'. Scottish Government Local Government
4 Incomes p25: The Scottish Government should review devolved welfare and social security policies to ensure they are aligned with fuel poverty eradication and make recommendations to the UK Government to do the same with reserved welfare policies. Scottish Government
Section 3.1.2 Local Economic Development
5 Incomes p26: The National Infrastructure Priority on energy efficiency and its cornerstone programme, Scotland's Energy Efficiency Programme, should be designed to maximise economic and social benefits for local communities with appropriate targets set for the creation of training places and job opportunities for local people. Scottish Government
6 Incomes p27: The Scottish Government should include fuel poverty alleviation as a central objective in the new Scottish Energy Policy, working to create affordable and secure energy supplies through the development of local energy systems, creating and sustaining local jobs and businesses. Scottish Government
7 Incomes p27: Support for local community energy projects, in particular the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme ( CARES), and the Local Energy Challenge Fund, should be continued and extended. Scottish Government
Section 3.2 Making energy costs affordable
3.2.1 Direct measures
8 Energy costs p29: The new fuel poverty strategy should include direct support to the fuel poor, or those at risk of fuel poverty, on managing their energy, switching to the best tariff, ensuring correct billing, and debt relief. Scottish Government
9 Energy costs p30: The Scottish Government should work with Ofgem and the energy suppliers to ensure the Competition and Markets Authority remedies on metering are implemented without delay, and their impact in Scotland monitored and evaluated accordingly. Scottish Government, Ofgem
3.2.2 Social security benefits aimed at reducing energy bills
10 Energy costs p30: The Scottish Government should explore potential solutions to support people on low incomes to afford sufficient energy for healthy living through their new social security powers. Scottish Government
11 Energy costs p31: Routine assessment of need for additional fuel poverty support should apply to all recipients of Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments. Scottish Government
12 Energy costs p31: The Scottish Government should review the delivery of the Winter Fuel Payment and consider the pros and cons of potential changes to its eligibility, how it is paid and what it is used for. Scottish Government
13 Energy costs p32: The Scottish Government should maintain the Cold Weather Payment with minor changes including: take account of exposure to wind and damp; link payments to the fuel poverty programme, and make the payment a discount off bills rather than a cash payment. Scottish Government
14 Energy costs p33: The Scottish Government should use the newly devolved powers in relation to the Warm Home Discount to better target support on those most in need and improve efficiency of delivery. Scottish Government
15 Energy costs p33: The Scottish Government should maintain the Warm Home Discount Industry initiatives, with parameters amended to enable innovation and complement SEEP and the fuel poverty programme. Scottish Government
3.2.3 Measures to create long term solutions for affordable energy pricing and supplies Pricing
16 Energy costs p34. In the longer term, the Scottish Government should work with the UK Government to explore the possibility of an alternative approach to the current 'universal price plus rebates' system to "Customer Differentiated Pricing" ( CDP). Scottish Government, UK Government
17 Energy costs p35: The Scottish Government should identify specific measures to support customers in rural and off-gas grid areas who suffer from higher energy prices than the rest of Scotland. Scottish Government Regulation
18 Energy costs p35. The Scottish Government should use existing and new powers and work with Ofgem, energy suppliers and network operators and their respective industry bodies to explore the full scope of what can be done to alleviate fuel poverty. Scottish Government, Ofgem
19 Energy costs p37: The Scottish Government should use every opportunity to influence the UK Government and work with Ofgem to ensure regulation of the GB energy market addresses fuel poverty. Scottish Government, UK Government, Ofgem
20 Energy costs p37: The Scottish Government should work with energy suppliers, energy advice networks, and the UK Government to explore best use of smart meter energy data to reduce fuel poverty while ensuring consumer protection. Scottish Government, UK Government Developing affordable energy supplies
21 Energy costs p38: The Scottish Government should support development of more choices of affordable energy supplies and work with local authority partners to set realistic and ambitious targets for every local authority area in this regard. Scottish Government
22 Energy costs p39: Scottish Government should work with the UK Government and Ofgem to remove or overcome barriers to community energy including access to finance, capacity building, grid constraints, complex licensing requirements, upgrades to transmissions systems and priority for connections. Scottish Government, UK Government, Ofgem
23 Energy costs p40: Ofgem should include fuel poverty alleviation as a criterion for innovation funding for network operators, ensure adequate take-up in Scotland, and consider applications for wider partnerships of stakeholders. Ofgem
3.3 Energy performance
3.3.1 Scotland's Energy Efficiency Programme
24 Energy performance p42: The SEEP Programme should have a central objective to eliminate poor energy performance of a property as a driver of fuel poverty throughout all of Scotland including rural areas. Scottish Government
25 Energy performance p43: The SEEP Programme should include a milestone towards achieving this anti-fuel poverty aim, with all properties of fuel poor households upgraded to at least an EPC band C by 2025 with five-yearly targets set for progress towards EPC band B thereafter. Scottish Government
26 Energy performance p44: The SEEP Programme should consider the use of higher standards and incentives to promote new and 'deep-retrofit' low energy homes in the social and private housing sector to help eradicate fuel poverty, reducing climate emissions as well as producing other benefits such as jobs and health and wellbeing. Scottish Government
27 Energy performance p45: Producing the SEEP Programme should be designed and implemented according to key criteria provided in this report including meeting households' needs, targeted approach, and best use of public funds, all building on current Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland ( HEEPS). Scottish Government
28 Energy performance p45: The SEEP Programme should be targeted at those properties for which the energy efficiency is the main driver for fuel poverty, with additional weighting on extreme fuel poverty. This will result in, for example, a greater focus on rural and remote rural properties which are disproportionally represented against these criteria. Clear measurement of performance is required. Scottish Government
3.3.2 Regulation of energy performance in the private sector
29 Energy performance p47: Introduce regulations for a minimum standard of energy performance at the point of sale and rental for the private housing sector. Such regulation will be an important driver towards eradicating fuel poverty and should be introduced as soon as possible. Scottish Government
30 Energy performance p47: Regulations should be designed to protect vulnerable households, and be accompanied by appropriate funding and advice to support compliance. Scottish Government
3.3.3 Energy Company Obligation
31 Energy performance p48: The Scottish Government should use its new powers in relation to the Energy Company Obligation ( ECO) to ensure that ECO supports the objectives of the National Infrastructure Priority on energy efficiency and its cornerstone programme SEEP. This will involve a holistic approach to programme management, using different sources of funding to minimise the cost of getting the maximum energy efficiency measures to eradicate fuel poverty. Scottish Government
32 Energy performance p49: The Scottish Government should explore the costs and benefits of approaches which would integrate ECO investment into the SEEP programme and include stakeholders, along with Ofgem and energy suppliers, in these discussions. Scottish Government
3.4 How energy is used
3.4.1 Using heating and energy saving technologies
33 How energy is used p51: The new fuel poverty strategy should acknowledge and address a fourth driver to fuel poverty which is how people use energy in their homes. Scottish Government
34 How energy is used p51: The Scottish Government should conduct research to understand the best approaches for support and engagement on the use of heating and energy saving technologies. Scottish Government
3.4.2 People-centred solutions
35 How energy is used p52: The new fuel poverty strategy should have the household's energy needs, and how they access and use fuel at the centre. Any interventions should be based around their particular needs. Scottish Government
36 How energy is used p53: The new fuel poverty strategy should include the participation of local, trusted organisations which provide wider support to householders on the use and management of heating systems. Scottish Government, local partnerships
4. Collaborative partnerships at the local level
4.2 Achieving wellbeing
37 Collaborative partnerships p56: Local partnerships that are focused on improving wellbeing should be developed and resourced to take a lead responsibility for ensuring the eradication of fuel poverty in their areas. They should be co-ordinated through Community Planning Partnerships and work with national services, such as Home Energy Scotland, as required. Funding for prevention and early intervention should be ring-fenced to support this approach. Scottish Government, Community Planning Partnerships
38 Collaborative partnerships p58: The Scottish Government should work with local government, NHS and other agencies to take a more radical and innovative approach to data sharing to identify the fuel poor and those at risk of fuel poverty in order to trigger fuel poverty assessments. Scottish Government, Community Planning Partnerships
39 Collaborative partnerships p59: Partnership work at the operational level should be supported by strategic leadership, co-ordinated across portfolios, in central and local governments and be given recognition in the National Performance Framework. Scottish Government, NHS, local authorities, Community Planning Partnerships
40 Collaborative partnerships p60: Local agencies should put in place training and skills development that support front line staff to identify challenges people face in sustaining good health and wellbeing, including signs of fuel poverty or the risk of fuel poverty, and make appropriate referrals to specialist advice and support services. NHS, local authorities, Community Planning Partnerships
5. Governance
5.2 Policy objective, definition, and targets
41 Governance p66: A review of the current fuel poverty definition is required and warranted due to concerns that the current definition is too broad and impedes targeting on those most in need. Scottish Government
42 Governance p68: A new definition should focus on the desired outcome - affordable and attainable warmth and energy use that supports health and wellbeing; acknowledge fuel poverty as a manifestation of poverty and inequalities in society; and be easy to understand and measure. Scottish Government
43 Governance p69: The Scottish Government should commission a review by independent, academic experts as soon as possible with a clearly defined timetable for completion. The Fuel Poverty Forum should give input to the final research brief and drafts of the review documents. Scottish Government
44 Governance p70: The review process should result in a new definition and target with a statutory basis. The Scottish Government should provide for transitional arrangements using the current definition while the review of the definition is underway, so as not to delay progress on helping the fuel poor. Scottish Government
5.3 Accountability and scrutiny
45 Governance p72: The Scottish Government should work with local councils and other stakeholders to design and implement accountability arrangements for national and local government and other agencies working in collaboration on fuel poverty (e.g. poverty, health, energy and housing). The arrangements should include a statutory basis for the fuel poverty strategy, including targets with requirements to measure progress. Scottish Government, local government
46 Governance p72: Establish robust and transparent scrutiny arrangements to oversee progress of the new fuel poverty strategy so as to enhance trust and credibility. Scottish Government, local government
47 Governance p74: The existing Fuel Poverty Forum should be given an important transitional role to any new arrangements for advice and scrutiny and should oversee the development of the new fuel poverty strategy. Scottish Government
5.4 Consumer protection
5.4.1 Why consumer protection is important
48 Governance p75: The future Consumer Scotland Agency should have a particular duty to consider the needs of fuel poor consumers and take actions to address fuel poverty. Scottish Government
49 Governance p76: The Scottish Government should support a single contact number for consumers concerned about any aspect of delivery of energy efficiency measures in their homes provided by the public sector or through energy suppliers obligated by the public sector. Scottish Government
50 Governance p76: Monitoring and evaluation of the consumer experience of fuel poverty programmes is essential to confirm that high standards are consistently met during programme delivery. Scottish Government, local partnerships
51 Governance p77: The Scottish Government should explore ways in which protection could be improved for consumers using unregulated fuels, particularly including those using district heating as well as traditional off gas fossil fuels. Scottish Government
5.5 Monitoring and evaluation
52 Governance p80: A monitoring and evaluation framework should be established for the new fuel poverty strategy and for SEEP and results should be reported to the fuel poverty advisory and scrutiny body on a regular basis. It should be developed at the start in partnership with the bodies that are delivering the programme. Scottish Government
5.6 Leadership and resources
5.6.1 Scottish and local governments leadership
53 Governance p81: The new fuel poverty strategy should be led by a cross-departmental ministerial group, making fuel poverty eradication a clear component of the health, communities, inequalities, housing, social security and energy portfolios, with one cabinet secretary accountable to deliver the strategy. Scottish Government
54 Governance p82: The cross-portfolio approach should be matched at the local level through local wellbeing partnerships with strong leadership from Community Planning Partnerships, local authorities and Health and Social Care Partnerships. Community Planning Partnerships, local authorities and Health and Social Care Partnerships.
55 Governance p82: The new fuel poverty strategy should be costed based on requirements to meet its desired outcome - affordable and attainable warmth and energy use for everyone in Scotland - and adequate resources (funding and capacity) made available at a national and local level on a multi-year basis. Scottish Government, Community Planning Partnerships, local authorities and Health and Social Care Partnerships.
5.6.2 Leadership from Ofgem in Scotland
56 Governance p83: The Scottish Parliament should request an annual strategy and work plan for Ofgem's activities in Scotland, addressing particular Scottish issues and concerns, including fuel poverty. Ofgem should be recognised as a key contributor to the new fuel poverty strategy. Scottish Parliament, Ofgem


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