Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel minutes: April 2019

Minutes of the meeting of the Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel in April 2019.

Attendees and apologies

  • Ann Loughrey (AL) – Chair
  • Norman Kerr (NK) – Deputy Chair, Energy Action Scotland
  • Jeremy  Hewer– Scottish Federation of Housing Associations  – deputising for Sarah Boyak
  • Stewart Wilson (SW) - Tighean Innse Gall (TIG)
  • Mike Campbell (MC) - Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL)
  • Lawrence Slade (LS) – Energy UK
  • Peter Kelly (PK) – The Poverty Alliance
  • George Dodds – NHS Health Scotland
  • Emma Grant-McColm (EGMcC) – Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Lynn Forsyth (LF) – Scottish Government
  • Ailie Clarkston (AC) – Scottish Government
  • Anne Cornelius (AC)– Scottish Government
  • Lizann Leckie (LL) – SG Secretaria

Items and actions

1. Welcome (Chair)

a. Introductions - (AL) welcomed everyone to today’s meeting. 

a. Apologies – (AL)

Sarah Boyak

Kate Morrison

b. Minute of previous meeting – The minute of the previous meeting was agreed with the Chair to make a few minor amendments.  

c. Conflict of interest – (AL)

The Chair noted that any Conflicts of Interest should be declared at the beginning of the meeting.  NK, GD and PK all noted  a potential conflict of interest around the lived experience work but they would excuse themselves if needed.  The Chair indicated that the potential conflict of interest had been discussed with the Scottish Government and that this would be covered more fully under Agenda Item 4 

d. Actions from previous meeting (Advisory Panel)

(AL) –There is an outstanding item regarding the Annual Report, this can be carried forward as it is on today’s agenda.  .

(AL) June meeting has now been rearranged.

(AL) Neil Ritchie who leads on the Publicly Owned Energy company is happy to come to the panel as and when  required. 

(AL) Information collated on current schemes that can be shared with the Panel  and then a meeting with SG analysts can be arranged.  

(AL) Other action have been completed.

2. Progress on the Fuel Poverty Bill and next steps

  1.  invited LF to provide a short update on the Fuel Poverty Bill.  Stage 2 was completed on 3 April, and in light of that there were a number of changes made to the Bill. (LF) provided a short summary of the key amendments.
  • Expansion of the final target so that in the year 2040:
    •    As far as reasonably possible, no household in Scotland is in fuel poverty and, in any event, no more than 5% of households in Scotland are in fuel poverty;
    •    No more than 1% of households in Scotland are in extreme fuel poverty; and 
    •    The median fuel poverty gap of households in fuel poverty in Scotland is no more than £250 in 2015 prices before adding inflation.
  • Duty on Ministers to ensure the 2040 target is met in each Local Authority.
  • Introduction of 3 interim 2030 targets on the face of the Bill.
  • Uplift in the Minimum Income Standard for households in remote rural, remote small town and island areas to reflect the higher cost of living in these areas, with the uplift for island areas to be determined separately.
  • Recognition of  the increased costs of those with a care need or disability in the fuel poverty definition through the deduction of certain benefits from a household’s net income after housing costs in part b) of the definition in order to determine whether the household has sufficient remaining income to maintain an acceptable standard of living.
  • Strengthening of the consultation process for the Fuel Poverty Strategy.
  • Giving the Scottish Parliament more scrutiny over the consultation process for the Fuel Poverty Strategy, the Strategy itself and any revision of it.
  • Obligation on Ministers to keep the Fuel Poverty Strategy under review and within 5 years it should be revised or we should publish an explanation of why this is not being done.
  • An increase in the frequency of the periodic reports on fuel poverty from every 5 years to every 3.
  • Ministers must consult with certain groups of people for the periodic reports.
  • Putting the Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel on a statutory footing. They will meet after the publication of each periodic report and report to Ministers on progress towards targets and the extent to which the 4 drivers of fuel poverty are being addressed.

There was a paper shared with the Committee  and if the panel has not seen this it could be circulated.  

ACTION – paper on RRRSTI to be circulated to the panel 

The Panel discussed next steps and it was noted that there is a provisional date for Stage 3 in early June.  

(NK) enquired about the use of regulations seeking clarification if it was easier to amend or update regulations compared to details being included on the face of the Bill.  AC/LF confirmed that this was  the case  but also noted the regulations are subject to the affirmative procedure and that there is a specific requirement to consult with appropriate stakeholders and people with lived experience of fuel poverty. 

The Panel discussed how they could provide feedback on progress to date and it was agreed that the Panel would review their original submission and that the Chair and Deputy Chair would write to the Minister setting out the views of the Panel. 

It was noted that the Island Communities Impact Assessment had been done and would be published ahead of Stage 3.  The Minister had agreed to carry out this work although the requirement is not yet in force – so this is feeding into the development of appropriate guidance.  

ACTION – AL and NK to review what was originally proposed  and to see if anything needs to be followed up.

3. Lived experience of fuel poverty

(AL) indicated that a small sub-group had met – an action from the previous meeting.  There had been a good discussion on taking into account the ‘lived experience’ and on how to make this happen in a  genuine way.  AL invited LF to set out the Scottish Government position and to close of the potential conflict of interest in light of a proposal to undertake research in this area by Panel members that had been sent to the Scottish Government. LF clarified that work would be done to gather the lived experience but that this would need to be done through an open and transparent process.  

 AC then outlined that Scottish Government would be procuring research in this area, covering a broad range of lived experience of fuel poverty, including gender, geography, disability, income poverty, type of household and tenure.  Because this research was being procured the Scottish Government was limited in what it could share with the Panel given that some of the organisations on the Panel may bid for this work.  

NK noted that a colleague of his has completed her dissertation that focussed on gender and if it was appropriate he would be happy to share this with the Scottish Government.  

ACTION – SG to check if this appropriate.  

AL invited PK to speak to the paper that had been shared with the Panel.  

This paper sets out the things we should be considering as panel members and organisations. It is clear that the organisations round the table all have networks that that can be drawn on to gather people’s experiences of fuel poverty.  There are different levels of engagement with people with lived experience – there is also potential to have someone on the Panel with lived experience of Fuel Poverty.   If we go down this route the Panel would need to think about how to identify people to take part in this. Need to consider what support we can offer someone.   These are all questions we need to make a decision on.

(AL) outlined how the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group, chaired by Rose Fitzpatrick, has two people with lived experience on their Group and that this brings a real depth to the work of that Group.  

There was a substantive discussion on the merits of building in the lived experience at all levels, including representation on the Panel and how this could best be done. 

A number of actions were agreed: 

ACTION – Lynn to identify published guidelines on what you can and cannot do if you are in receipt of benefits and George Dodds to have an exploratory discussion with his DWP contacts.

ACTION – to ask the Poverty Alliance and the Poverty Truth Commission to lead on a session on lived experience at a Forum meeting.

ACTION – Ann to draft a role description for a person with lived experience to sit on the Panel. 

 4. Feedback to the Minister on the Committees Report

(AL) open on the above item which NK had asked to be put on the agenda.  Following the meeting in February the Local Government and Communities Committee report had been published and Panel members were asked to provide feedback.  The responses had been collated and summarised and sent back to the Chair for consideration.  The Panel discussed next steps and how best to feedback to the Minister.  It was agreed the Chair and Deputy Chair would draft a letter to the Minister. 

ACTION – Ann Loughrey and Norrie Kerr to draft a letter to the Minister.

5. Annual Report

The draft Annual Report had been circulated and AL thanked NK and team for providing admin support and SG for collating.  There are still a few things to be tidied up and then it will be finished.  There was a discussion on how the Report should be drafted and the Panel agreed the report should be written and presented by the Chair on behalf of the Panel.   

6. Enhanced regime

  1.  talked the panel through the paper–that set out the timescales for doing this work and the options that Scottish Government had identified – but noting that we were open to other potential options as well.  

The panel then held a discussions on how long people spend in the home and have their heating on and the reasons for this – types of heating e.g. storage heaters, condition of the property, how long it takes to heat your home(AC) to check on the modelling for this.  Discussion also touched on how the identifying fuel poor households, including those that needed an enhanced heating regime.  It was stressed that the enhanced heating was used in the calculations for the Scottish Housing Condition Survey to identify the overall rate of fuel poverty.  This wasn’t about eligibility for particular schemes.  Work would be done looking at proxies and how we could better identify fuel poor households as part of the development of the final Fuel Poverty Strategy.  

All of the options were discussed: Option 1 – replace existing self-reported health criterion with a list of conditions for which the enhanced heating regime would apply.

  • After a quick discussion, the Panel agreed that there was no support for such a list of conditions approach and that we could do better.

Option 2 – Refine self-reported health criterion with information on the economic activity of household members such that, under part a) the heating regime is applied if at least one person in the household has a long-term health condition and they spend longer in the home.

  • There was some attraction to this option.

Option 3 - Refine self-reported health criteria with a new question relating to the times of day when household members are regularly at home such that, under part a), the heating regime is applied if at least one person in the household has a long-term health condition and they spend longer in the home.

  • There was some attraction to this option. Although it was suggested that the phrasing could be more similar to option 5 i.e. a question about whether the household member’s condition requires them to spend more time in the home rather than about the times of day when they are regularly at home.

Option 4 - Refine self-reported health criteria with a new question relating whether they also report a need for a warmer home environment. Therefore part a) would only result in the enhanced regime being applied if at least one person in the household has a long-term health condition and they require a warmer home.

  • There was no support for this option which was viewed as too subjective.

Option 5 - Refine self-reported health criteria with two new questions such that part a) would only result in the enhanced regime being applied if at least one person in the household has a long-term health condition AND they require a warmer home environment AND their condition requires them to spend more time home.

  • There was some attraction to a variation of this option and option 3 i.e. something which refines the current part a) criterion according to time spent in the home but drops the refinement about requiring a warmer home which is too subjective. The wording of option 5’s refinement was preferred by some i.e. around ‘does your condition require you to spend more time in the home’ although this could be further reviewed.

Option 6 - Refine self-reported health criteria with a new question asking about whether the condition limits their day to day activities in line with the Equalities Act definition of a disability. Therefore part a) would only result in the enhanced regime being applied if they have a long-term condition AND it limits their day to day activities.

  • There was mixed interest in option 6 with a positive being that it is easier to implement than other options by using questions that already exist in the FRS but a negative being that it could be too much of an assumption that limitations on day to day activities mean a need for more time at home or higher temperatures.

Option 7 – Replace part a) with those in receipt of disability related benefits.

  • There was quite a lot of support for this option since it is not subjective and can be easily implemented on the basis of information already collected in the SHCS. The only concern was that it might miss households where someone is eligible but doesn’t actually claim. It was suggested that this could be combined with another option (e.g. 3 or 5) to address that issue.

On the basis of the feedback received, it was concluded that the Panel did not support options 1 and 4. The others may merit further consideration and a composite option may also be a possibility, for example (on basis of options 3, 5 and 7) replacing part a), the self-reported health condition with:

o   Households where at least one member is in receipt of DLA, PIP, AA or Scottish equivalents; or

o   Households where at least one member reports as having a physical or mental health condition or illness lasting or expected to last 12 months or more AND their condition requires them to spend more time in the home.

It was agreed that this was quite complex and Panel members were invited to provide more detailed views by 26 April. 

ACTION – Scottish Government to summarise discussion and circulate.

ACTION - Ailie Clarkson to check on the existing consumption modelling and how this takes account of ‘pre-heating’ 

7. Any other Business

Norrie just to say for the minute to note that David Stewart finishes today.  David quite often substituted for Sarah Boyak and we thank him for his contribution and wish him well in the Land Commission.

The Chair noted that she had been approached by two people who were interested in joining the Panel.  It was noted that membership of the Panel was by Ministerial appointment. 

ACTION – AC  to respond to both individuals.

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