Publication - Corporate report

Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel: first annual report

Published: 10 Jul 2019
Part of:
Housing
ISBN:
9781839600074

First annual report of the Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel and the Scottish Fuel Poverty Partnership Forum.

21 page PDF

260.2 kB

21 page PDF

260.2 kB

Contents
Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel: first annual report
Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel : Annual Report

21 page PDF

260.2 kB

Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel : Annual Report

Foreword

In writing this foreword for the first Annual Report of the newly formed Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel (The Panel) and the Scottish Fuel Poverty Partnership Forum (The Forum), I wanted to take stock on what has been achieved. I have spent the last few weeks talking to members and gauging their views and asking them what they think is working and what needs to change. We are determined as a Group to make a difference and be that "critical friend" of the Minister, and others, providing constructive comment to inform the debate. After all, this is a hugely important time – an opportunity to influence the new Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill. Without hesitation, each person I speak to wants to draw on the lived experience of fuel poverty – it's become quite the phrase of the year… you see it being used all the time and of course no-one is going to argue that this isn't a good thing to do. There is nothing new here. The lived experience was well documented when the fuel poverty movement first got off the ground in the late 1970's and 1980's – I can recall the late Tommy Howatt, the Chairman of the Easthall Tenants Association, (and many others), describing the misery of living in a cold damp home and the need for funding to be spent to improve the energy efficiency of the housing stock. Have we really lost sight of the misery of fuel poverty and become so consumed by numbers, measures and technical data? I sincerely hope not. I'm determined to ensure that people remain at the centre of any changes we make to our strategy to end fuel poverty.

It has been a very busy first year for both groups. We have responded to the Communities Committee call for evidence and I have met with the Minster several times throughout the year. I've also taken time to meet with others involved in the development of the Public Energy Company and been out on some site visits with the deputy Chair.

There is no doubt that the Panel remain concerned about the target date to end fuel poverty is too far distant to be seen as addressing fuel poverty as matter of urgency. Rather the 2040 date, we believe is too far distant and gives some scope for the problem not being owned by the Government. However the Panel were reassured about the Minister's intention to accommodate those in rural communities with the rural uplift. Much remains to be done in debating the need to find solutions that run across both improvements to incomes as well as properties in order to take people out of fuel poverty for good.

I look forward to working with the Minister in 2019 and thank him for his personal commitment to delivering the Scottish Government's ambition to end fuel poverty once and for all.

Remits and Responsibilities of the Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel and the Scottish Fuel Poverty Partnership Forum

The Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel was established in April 2018 to advise Scottish Ministers on fuel poverty issues in Scotland, providing constructive feedback on progress in meeting targets. In particular, it will:

  • provide independent advice to Ministers on fuel poverty matters, with the ability to research and draft independent reports to be submitted for consideration on this basis
  • monitor and report on progress of the development and implementation of the Scottish Government's Fuel Poverty Strategy, including a new fuel poverty target
  • support and challenge Government at all levels on the delivery of its fuel poverty and energy efficiency programmes, and efforts to tackle fuel poverty, recognising the broader poverty and climate change policy contexts within which these sit
  • encourage and foster a partnership approach to tackling fuel poverty across the public, private and third sectors – this will include giving consideration to how the group can effectively and appropriately engage with other similarly strategic groups operating in related policy fields
  • monitor and report on the delivery of the Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force and the Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group's recommendations and report on progress
  • produce an annual statement to Scottish Ministers on progress and outcomes
  • undertake specific in-depth work through short life working groups to explore relevant issues and make recommendations on how these should be addressed.

The Scottish Fuel Poverty Partnership Forum will be a representative body for the wider fuel poverty sector, and will:

  • review the annual Scottish House Condition Survey results regarding level of fuel poverty
  • provide a source of expertise that will be called upon to sit on short life working groups and provide evidence to the Panel when required
  • support a co-ordinated approach to tackling fuel poverty across the public, private and third sectors.

Wider Strategic Context

The work of the Panel and Partnership Forum is an important contributor to the government's broader policy priority to reduce inequalities (and therefore health inequalities) across Scotland. We know that income, power and wealth are some of the fundamental causes of inequality and so tackling fuel poverty is an important part of that work. NHS Health Scotland show how tackling these can undo inequalities in their theory of causation.

Wider Strategic Context

Source: http://www.healthscotland.scot/health-inequalities/what-are-health-inequalities

Our work therefore has a very practical and also long term objective to help address the fundamental causes of inequality. In this case ensuring the most vulnerable citizens have improved income by paying less for fuel (though whatever means) and thereby increasing their (albeit still very limited) disposable income.

It also seeks to create more equitable access to affordable fuel giving the same people an improved ability to make decisions (power) that are good for their health

Equally, it is important not to ignore those people experiencing poverty and crisis now so it is important for us to also ensure that we carry out a blend of actions that aim to both mitigate the current and prevent future inequality.

Workplan

The Panel had an agreed workplan which was approved April 2018 and is set out below.

High-level priorities are:

1. To contribute to the development of the Fuel Poverty Bill and Draft Fuel Poverty Strategy; and
Respond to the call for evidence from the Local Government and Communities Committee on the Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill

2. To scrutinise and identify learning points from the Government's fuel poverty delivery programme evaluation processes; to inform development of Energy Efficient Scotland, and as part of a wider role, to advise on the design and content of the Outcomes Framework; and to the regular reporting that government is committed to providing on the Fuel Poverty Strategy.

As part of this workplan members also confirm their responsibility to:

  • monitor progress on the Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group and Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force's recommendations to Scottish Government
  • engage with strategic policy stakeholder groups, for example, the Poverty and

Inequalities Committee and Energy Efficient Scotland Delivery Board

What we have achieved during the year

The joint Panel and Forum meetings in June and December focused on the following;

  • The June meeting introduced the members to the Minister where we heard first-hand the expectations and contributions the group were invited to make on fuel poverty policy development and the Energy Efficient Scotland Route Map
  • The December Forum meeting focused on a Draft Outcomes Framework and advice on its alignment with Energy Efficient Scotland.

The Forum was further engaged in the outcomes from the Strategic Fuel Poverty Working Group and the Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force recommendations. The Forum has been invited to take the lead role in monitoring progress of the recommendations made by both groups against implementation and action.

The Fuel Poverty Bill

As you might expect an important part of our work was to give recommendations to the Minister on the substance of the new Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill, which we did and then just as importantly followed that up by providing written evidence to The Local Government and Communities Committee when they issued a Call for Evidence on the Bill to which the Panel responded.

The Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill set out a new target for the reduction of fuel poverty – this being no more than 5% by 2040. A new definition is proposed - meaning that a household must meet two criteria:

  • Its required fuel costs must be more than 10% of household net income after deducting housing costs and;
  • The remaining household net income after the payment of fuel costs and child care costs must also be insufficient to maintain an acceptable standard of living for the household.

In addition, the Scottish Government published in June 2018 a new long-term Fuel Poverty Strategy alongside the Bill; with a progress report every 5 years.

In its response to the call for evidence The Panel drew the Committee's attention to the following:-

  • The right to adequate housing is of central importance for the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights and this right should be realised fairly. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, interprets the right to adequate housing to include a focus on habitability: Adequate housing must be habitable, in terms of providing the inhabitants with adequate space and protecting them from cold, damp, heat, rain, wind or other threats to health, structural hazards, and disease vectors. The physical safety of occupants must be guaranteed as well.
  • Considering, the combined ambitions to tackle each of the drivers of fuel poverty, might help determine the possibility of success being achieved earlier than 2040.
  • One example of this would be alignment with the statutory requirements within The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 and Scottish Government's aim to achieve child poverty targets by 2030. This would justify stating an intention to achieve the fuel poverty target for households with children by 2030.
  • Another example is the Route Map for Energy Efficient Scotland, which sets out the Scottish Government's long-term ambition to improve the energy efficiency of Scotland's building stock. This Route Map was consulted on in summer 2018 and included proposals that all private rented sector properties meet EPC Energy Efficiency Rating Band C by 2030 and that the proportion of registered social landlord properties meeting EPC Energy Efficiency Rating Band B will be maximised by 2032.

In answering the Committee's questions the Panel's response can be seen at Appendix 1.

Supporting Information

Meetings for this period were held as follows:

  • February 2018 in Glasgow
  • April 2018 in Glasgow
  • A joint Panel and Forum meeting in June 2018 in Edinburgh
  • September 2018 in Ayr
  • A joint Panel and Forum meeting in December 2018 in Edinburgh
  • February 2019 in Glasgow

The Minutes of the meetings are available on the Panel and Forum's webpages hosted on the Scottish Government website and are freely available for anyone who wishes to see the detail of our meetings and discussions.

Appendix 1

Question 1) Do you agree with the Scottish Government's proposal to provide for a statutory target to reduce fuel poverty to no more than 5 per cent of Scottish Households by 2040?

The Panel did not agree to a statutory target to reduce fuel poverty to no more than 5 % of Scottish Households by 2040 and suggested instead a target of 2032. Replying further that 5% of all households in 2040 is still a substantial amount; the Panel suggest 0% of all households by 2040, but preferably 2032.

In terms of the suggested 2 non-statutory interim targets & milestones at 2030 and 2040, we suggest statutory interim targets at 2025, 2030 & 2032.

Question 2) Do you agree with the Scottish Government's proposals for a revised definition of fuel poverty?

On the proposal for a revised definition of fuel poverty the Panel noted that the Scottish Government should develop its own Scottish Minimum Income Standard (MIS), rather than use the UK MIS. This would take into account the 'poverty premium' experienced by those living in rural and island areas, and for those with additional expenses due to disability which are not fully accounted for in Disability Living Allowance/Personal Independence Payment benefit payments.

When considering households to which the heating regimes apply the Panel noted, with concern, the move from the age of 60 to the age of 75 as this would not take into account financial vulnerability and that the removal of children under the age of 5 ignored the negative health of fuel poverty on households with young children.

Question 3) Do you agree with provisions in the Bill requiring the Scottish Government to publish a fuel poverty strategy? Do you also agree with the consultation requirements set out in relation to the strategy?

In response to the requirement of the Scottish Government to publish a fuel poverty strategy the panel stated that "Consultation with a wide and diverse range of stakeholders is required to inform action required to address each individual driver of fuel poverty. This should include engagement with housing providers of all tenures."

It further suggested that the requirement to consult people with lived experience of fuel poverty needs to be more clearly defined i.e. it is not sufficient to work with representatives of groups but rather include primary research with those who currently or have had experience of fuel poverty. This might include the setting up of a 'consumer panel' from which to draw valuable insights although we acknowledge that there is a cost associated with this.

Question 4) A draft fuel poverty strategy was published alongside the Bill on 27 June. Do you have any views on the extent to which the measures set out in the draft Fuel Poverty Strategy for Scotland 2018 will contribute to meeting the Government's new target? Have lessons been learned from previous initiatives?

In its response, the Panel felt that the Draft Fuel Poverty Strategy, while detailing actions which the Scottish Government hopes will contribute to meeting the new target, was in need of additional funding to support those actions. The Panel also suggested better reporting on all the schemes, focusing on people-centric outcomes as opposed to total numbers of energy efficiency measures installed, for example. The measures set out in the Draft Fuel Poverty Strategy are more focused on removing poor energy efficiency as a driver for fuel poverty.

The panel also felt that although high energy costs and low disposable income are technically reserved matters, more actions could be taken to mitigate these in Scotland. Also important is changing behaviour, making changes to how energy is used in the home and actions need to be developed to encourage this on a scale that is commensurate with the Scottish Government's ambition to eradicate fuel poverty.

The response concluded that it is of concern that the final date for acceptance of failure or success is in 2042, 2 whole years after the 2040 deadline. We suggest reporting every three years instead of five years, this will allow better monitoring of the progress towards the target.

We hope that the progress of the Bill will bring some positive change making it more effective than we believe it currently is and look forward to working with all Panel and Forum member organisations to achieve this.

Next year's work will continue to set a challenge as we look to the Scottish Government's Draft Fuel Poverty Strategy. During the year we will support and challenge Government at all levels on delivery of its fuel poverty and energy efficiency programmes, and its efforts to tackle fuel poverty.

My thanks to all who participated in the Panel and Forum and I look forward to working with you all over the coming year particularly as the Bill makes its way to achieve Royal Assent in summer 2019.

Ann Loughrey
Independent Chair
Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel and Partnership Forum

Feedback to the LGCC Stage 1 report on the Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill

Published 29 January 2019

Paragraph of Report Conclusion/ Recommendation Advisory Panel Comments
Section 1 – Fuel Poverty Target
42 The Committee supported the principle of setting a statutory target for reducing fuel poverty within a set time period.

While it is seen as being very positive and setting a statutory target is welcomed, there is a feeling that the target should be more ambitious than 2040. CAS specifically believe that in order to eradicate fuel poverty the target should be brought forward to 2032 to tie in with the EAS target of bringing homes up to EPC Band C standard by 2030, and socially rented homes to Band B by 2032.

CAS added that 2032 reflects a more appropriate level of ambition, it should also be introduced to help to ensure that there is a timely focus on all of the drivers of fuel poverty. This would help to ensure that there is not an undue focus on energy efficiency up to 2032.

Eradication versus a 5% Target
52 & 53

The Committee accepted that setting a statutory target for reducing fuel poverty is ultimately a matter of judgment. They were satisfied that the target of 5% set out in the Bill is achievable and at the same time would make a real difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people were it to be achieved. They felt it struck an appropriate balance between realism and ambition. The 5% target also recognised the Scottish Government's limited influence in relation to two of the four main drivers of fuel poverty, and its transient nature, with the potential for individual households to move in and out of the definition, depending on changing circumstances in relation to which governments may have little or no direct control.

The Committee agreed with the Scottish Government that the more long-term ambition should be the eradication of fuel poverty, as much as is realistically possible, and that the 5% target should not be the limit of this or future government's ambitions. With robust monitoring systems in place (as discussed later in the report), there is the opportunity to learn from experience and to benefit from technological advances between now and the target date.

The views here are noted as "fairly disappointed". The 5% is seen as being an arbitrary target by some members of the Panel who believe the aim should be complete eradication by 2032.

While some members of the Panel said that it is essential that, if the SG continue with the 5% target, then those households that remain in fuel poverty are not those people in vulnerable situations and experiencing extreme fuel poverty. This would represent an abject failure of the Bill to protect those most at risk in society. Others added that the committee could also have acknowledged that they do have influence if not direct control over all 4 elements.

Length of the target
71 & 72

The Committee noted concerns regarding the length of the target date set out in the Bill but felt this approach was a pragmatic response to previous attempts to set a target, which ultimately failed. They noted that reducing fuel poverty will heavily depend on technologies still in development and that it is realistic to build in time for these to come on-stream.

The Committee accepted the Government's reasons for setting the target date at 2040 but this would be conditional on the Government bringing forward amendments to make at least some of its interim milestones statutory by way of amendment at Stage 2 (the Committee noted they were pleased that a public commitment has been made to enshrine two of these at Stage 2). If the amendments are agreed to, this should help protect the fuel poverty strategy from "drift", and enable comprehensive assessment of how well the strategy is working at its mid-point.

While some agreed with the Committee's views on keeping the statutory interim targets to keep the SG to on track to ensure the final target it met, some disagreed that technology should be a reason not to meet targets and that technology is already commercially available (efficient storage heaters and heat pumps).

Concerns were noted over affordability of fuel and the extra expense of electric heating systems (with 11% of households being reliant on electric hearing, with 52% of those noted as being in fuel poverty).

Others also noted that the target is too far away to be meaningful and added that internal and external wall insulation, heat pumps, air to air, ground source, solar PV, solar thermal and small scale hydro and battery storage systems/technology are already in use.

The general theme was that more funding is required.

Extreme Fuel Poverty
78 & 79

The Committee had heard concerns from stakeholders working with those in extreme fuel poverty (i.e. those having to spend more than 20% of their income on fuel) about the lack of explicit reference in the Bill to prioritising a reduction in extreme fuel poverty and who felt that without a specific reference this could leave many of these households in the final 5 per cent facing fuel poverty by 2040.

They have asked the Government to bring forward proposals for a separate target for targeting extreme fuel poverty at Stage 2, and to ensure that there is specific reference to eradicating it in any strategy produced under the Bill.

While some agreed that there should be a separate target for those in extreme fuel poverty, they recognised that this is shifting the goal posts somewhat due to the transient nature of fuel poverty as a sudden increase in wholesale costs could push more households into extreme fuel poverty.

Others added that there concerns that there could be a real danger that future programmes will, through lack of funding simply be targeted at those in extreme circumstances.

Some felt that [we] already limit support to fuel poor households, by having to be in a dwelling with a EPC score of a certain level and have less than a specific floor area, this could then be added to say and spend more than 20% of income on fuel.

Local targeting
88 - 90

The Committee stated that the Scottish Government should consider amending Section 1 of the Bill to put in place statutory targets for each local authority to reduce fuel poverty in their areas to no greater than 5 per cent of their households by 2040, in order to help drive progress towards achievement of the national target and eliminate regional disparities.

The Committee noted concerns that it was important to ensure that local authorities didn't just direct resources at the most easy to treat properties in order to meet the new statutory target. They welcomed the Minister's commitment to continue to work with local authorities to consider how best to distribute schemes to balance the requirements of those with the greatest needs for support and those with more marginal problems. They urged the Government to ensure that the fuel poverty strategy provided clear, helpful and practical guidance to local authorities on how best to distribute their resources to avoid local disparities.

The Committee also wanted to ensure that best practice in being flexible and creative was shared between local authorities and sought information on how Government would do this.

There was disagreement noted here. Some don't believe that statutory targets on LA's is necessary on the face of the Bill, nor should be made statutory. There was a feeling that this could be a feature of the Fuel Poverty Strategy rather than the Bill.

It was felt that setting mandatory targets shifts responsibility from Central Government on to Local Government at a time when LA's are already under budgetary pressures.

Additionally, pushing the responsibility onto LA's without noting where the resource would come from was also seen as disappointing.

Section 2 – Definition Of Fuel Poverty
MIS and rural uplift
126 - 128

The Committee welcomed the revised definition of fuel poverty which should help ensure a closer linkage to actual "lived" income poverty but highlighted the evidence they had heard that the definition may not adequately take into account the reality of living in islands, remote towns and remote rural areas.

They asked the Scottish Government, during the remaining passage of the Bill, to commit to introducing an additional Minimum Income Standard to reflect the higher costs faced by those living in islands, remote towns and remote rural areas (capturing all households in areas covered by categories 4 and 6 of the Urban Rural Classification).

Although there was strong agreement for the need to have a rural uplift in MIS, there was some expressions that a Scottish MIS would be better.

If there was any delay in applying a rural MIS, or a Scottish MIS that incorporates it, it would be possible to initially use the UK MIS then retroactively revise fuel poverty rates once the remote rural MIS could be applied. It was noted that this approach is already undertaken for the Scottish House Condition Survey, where figures are revised as methodologies are improved.

No MIS mark-up for disability or long-term illness and the extension of the age vulnerability criteria
135 & 136

The Committee was generally content with the age threshold being 75 and noted that the Scottish Government intends to include individuals with long-term health problems amongst those in need of enhanced heating and that this is likely to capture a significant number of households which include an individual in the 60-75 age cohort.

However, the Committee noted concerns about how the approach set out in the Bill might impact in areas of multiple deprivation where life expectancy is on average lower and asked the Scottish Government to respond to evidence that there should be some built-in flexibility when setting vulnerability criteria by age, so as not to exclude households in real need of enhanced heating status.

Concerns were noted over the fact that the financial vulnerability of those between 65 and 75 who, by virtue of having a very restricted income, will be "ignored", nor does it show the medical evidence for ignoring children under the age of five.

There was agreement that the vulnerability status should be linked to age (both older and under five), as well as health and financial vulnerability as a consequence. It was felt that all these factors should be considered as and when they arise and should be taken into consideration when determining vulnerability. There was agreement with the proposal by the review panel that further work should be undertaken to develop a specific list of health and disability categories, as well as age bands, which would satisfactorily encompass the term 'vulnerable to the adverse health and wellbeing impacts of living in fuel poverty'. It was felt that this would ensure that these characteristics can be adequately captured, and take into account individuals' changing circumstances.

Complexity of the new target and linkage to delivery on the ground
153 - 155

The Committee noted that the fuel poverty definition in the Bill is a statistical measuring tool to assess the national fuel poverty rate and welcomed it as a more effective measure of "real life" fuel poverty than the current definition. But the Committee noted stakeholder concerns that the complexity of the definition could obstruct help going to some of those in need and prevent some from self-identifying as living in fuel poverty. The felt a "door-step tool" to help determine which households are in fuel poverty could assist and have asked for an update on the Scottish Government's thinking on the feasibility of such a tool should the Bill progress. They also asked the Scottish Government to respond to the evidence led at Stage 1 proposing better sharing of information that is relevant in determining whether households are in fuel poverty.

Stakeholders also had concerns as to how the new definition could be made to work alongside the proxies that are used in practice to determine whether households are in need of assistance and asked for an update on when the review of the current proxies will take place, how the Government intends to roll out guidance, and how it will encourage the sharing of best practice.

While the use of the "door step tool" helps account for peoples varying circumstances, it was felt that more information would be required as to how it would work in practice. It was seen as potentially being very complex with CAS suggesting it would be best considered for the FP Strategy rather than the face of the Bill.
Sections 3-5 – Fuel Poverty Strategy
163 - 165

An effective fuel poverty strategy will be crucial if current and future administrations are to be successful in their ambitious long-term aim of eradicating fuel poverty in Scotland. The Committee welcomed that the Bill requires the Scottish Government to publish a fuel poverty strategy and that it is vital that key measures and policies are informed by the views of those with first-hand knowledge of the effects and impact of fuel poverty. They welcomed the requirement in the Bill for consultation with people who are living, or who have lived, in fuel poverty before any strategy is published.

The Committee also noted that when periodically reporting to Parliament on progress under the strategy, Scottish Ministers show whether and how policies and procedures to tackle fuel poverty have taken the lived experience of individuals into account.

There was a lot of agreement with taking account of the lived experience. CAS suggested expanding the Scottish Household Survey and Scottish House Condition Survey to potentially include research to inform experiences of fuel poverty, with a "deep dive" qualitative interviews undertaken with a subset of responders who had agreed to be contacted again.
Lack of policies reflecting the rural dimension
183 The Committee welcomed the Minister's commitment to undertake an Islands Impact Assessment on all aspects of the Bill and that any this assessment should also cover the Draft Fuel Poverty Strategy. The Committee would like this done soon to allow the Committee to take a view on any of the issues raised in advance of its consideration of amendments to the Bill. The panel agreed
Monitoring of delivery schemes
197 The Committee noted the concerns that had been raised about the inadequacy of works carried out under UK-based energy-efficiency schemes and the apparent lack of monitoring of the quality of this work. The Committee intends to write to the UK Government to call for it to take action and urged the Scottish Government to continue to highlight this issue to the UK Government.

While this was welcomed, some felt it ignored the fact that it is not just the monitoring but the failure to act by those regulatory bodies overseeing the monitoring of works.

Some felt that robust monitoring and evaluation is an essential part of a fuel poverty scheme – and to date schemes have focussed on the number of energy efficiency interventions as opposed to outcomes for people. Outcomes for people should be a key metric.

Ministerial response to views on the Draft Fuel Poverty Strategy
199

The Committee welcomed the publication of the draft fuel poverty strategy and recognised that it is a "work in progress". The have asked the Scottish Government to take account of the views presented by those who gave evidence in this section of the report, particularly on how the strategy will take action to address the drivers of fuel poverty in addition to energy efficiency;

  • how lessons will be learned from previous schemes;
  • how best practice will be mainstreamed across Scotland;
  • linkages to other policies and proposed laws, such as the Planning (Scotland) Bill and the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill;
  • resourcing and the impact on other policy areas such as the economy, health, social care and educational attainment;
  • how it will improve policies to tackle fuel poverty in remote rural and island areas;
  • how it will tackle fuel poverty in the private rented sector;
  • how it will monitor quality and value for money of energy efficiency measures and delivery schemes; and the support provided to households that have received ineffective repairs.
The Panel agreed
Sections 6-9 – Reporting On Fuel Poverty
217 - 219

The Committee welcomed the commitment to include reporting on progress against all four drivers of fuel poverty and the impact of measures to address each driver. As well as giving an overall picture of progress this would provide an overview of those mechanisms which are producing positive results and those which are to be mainstreamed as part of best practice, as well as those where extra resource needs to be targeted. This is particularly important given that the Scottish Government does not have full control over each of the drivers.

The Committee noted the alignment of reporting with the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Target) (Scotland) Bill but felt that believes that a report to Parliament should be submitted every 3 years rather than 5 as proposed in the Bill. This would better enable quick and effective action to be taken should critical milestones not be achieved.

The Committee noted the benefit of robust and independent scrutiny that the Committee on Climate Change has brought to measuring progress against climate change targets. The Committee recommended that an independent scrutiny body be put in place to provide the same function for fuel poverty targets. We suggest that the current Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel could be put on a statutory footing to carry out this role.

The three year reporting cycle was welcomed, and it was agreed that it is better than a five year cycle. It was felt that the Scottish Government should report on all four drivers of fuel poverty as part of this reporting in order to determine progress made against each driver, and identify what is within and out-with the remit of the Scottish Government to effect. It was suggested that a statutory oversight body could scrutinise progress against targets against the four drivers of fuel poverty.
Sections 10 – 14 - General
223 The Committee believes that all provisions of the Bill should be commenced within 12 months of the date of Royal Assent. Only one response to this section which was an agreement
Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee consideration
231 The Committee was grateful to Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee for raising questions over the delegated powers set out in the Bill, in relation to the appointment of a person to determine the Minimum Income Standard and a power to redefine "fuel poverty". Following evidence from the Minister, they are satisfied that these powers are appropriate. No comments given
Policy and Financial Memorandum
233 The Committee noted that the level of detail provided in the Policy Memorandum on the policy intention behind the provisions in the Bill helped the Committee in its scrutiny. No comments given
242 - 245 Report noted that it was difficult to comment on the financial implications of the Bill, given that the costs are associated with measures, policies and procedures that will be set out in the strategy. The Committee had heard differing views on levels of resourcing needed to reach the targets. They noted that costings had been provided for meeting climate change targets in the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill, and are urging the Scottish Government to consider providing further information on the potential costings and funding sources for achieving the fuel poverty targets to the Committee and to Parliament as the Bill progresses No comments given

Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel

17 April 2019

Kevin Stewart MSP
Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning
The Scottish Government
St. Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

Dear Minister

Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel first Annual Report

I have pleasure in sending you the first Annual Report of the Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel (the Panel) and the Scottish Fuel Poverty Partnership Forum (the Forum). Both groups have had a busy year and hope that the report reflects this. I am of course happy to meet with you to talk over the report and our thinking on the Fuel Poverty, (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill as it reaches the latter stages of its Parliamentary process before achieving Royal Assent and becoming an Act of Parliament in Summer of this year.

I have also attached the Panel's summarised responses to the Local Government and Communities Committee Stage 1 Report on the Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill - conclusions and recommendations which were published on 29 January 2019. The Panel have warmly welcomed the amendments made to the Bill at Stage 2 many of which were supported by the Panel in our submission to the Local Government and Communities Committee in their call for evidence in examining the Bill.

I trust you find the report and our other comments of use and look forward to hearing from you as well as working with you over the coming months as the role of the Panel changes to a more statutory footing.

Yours sincerely

Ann Loughrey
Independent Chair


Contact

Email: sharon.mcguire@gov.scot