Zero Emission Taskforce recommendation report: Scottish Government response

Sets out our response to the Zero Emissions Social Housing Taskforce report.

Chapter 6 Shared learning and communication to support technological solutions

Recommendation 6:

Social landlords and both local and national government should work in partnership to ensure individuals and communities are fully engaged and supported in the net zero transition.

Our response:

As set out in the Heat in Buildings Strategy, work is now underway to develop a new Heat in Buildings Public Engagement Strategy, to be published in early 2023. This strategy will build on the principles set out in our approach to public engagement on climate change published last year.

The Public Engagement Strategy (PES) will:

  • Increase understanding of the changes we need to see in how we heat our homes and buildings, and why;
  • Raise the profile of energy efficiency and net zero carbon heating options so that people are aware of the benefits and begin to see them as a positive choice ; and
  • Raise awareness of the support and advisory services available to maximise uptake of the support available.

The strategy will set out a framework for public engagement, including public participation in policy and support programme design, ensuring the needs of different groups are considered. This reflects our commitment to supporting a just and fair transition.

We will work collaboratively with local authorities, social landlords and tenants groups – as well as wider stakeholders – to ensure the upcoming Public Engagement Strategy supports local level activities, and builds on good practice approaches, learning and insights. As part of this, we will explore how best we can help these important local partners to continue to act as key trusted messengers to discuss the heat transition with their respective target audiences as the pace and scale of transformation increases. We urge and encourage social landlords to continue to engage closely with their tenants to help communicate the changes needed and to support households in adjusting to their retrofitted homes so that they can reap the benefits of improved energy efficiency and zero emissions heating systems.

Action 22.

The Scottish Government should publish its delayed Fuel Poverty Strategy by the end of 2021, as it has committed to do, and ensure it includes a coherent programme tailored to the needs of individual households that addresses the four drivers of fuel poverty, reflecting the rapidly evolving context of decarbonisation of heating.

Scottish Government response

The Scottish Government’s Fuel Poverty Strategy was published on 23 December 2021. It identifies a comprehensive range of actions to address all four drivers of fuel poverty and address fuel poverty for those at highest risk. These actions have been informed by evidence, including lived experience, and learning from the changing context as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency.

Action 23.

The Scottish Government should publish as a priority its final ‘Net Zero Nation’ public engagement strategy, to which social landlords should respond with local tenant engagement plans, sharing experiences with the Scottish Government to facilitate ongoing learning.

Scottish Government response

The Strategy was published in September 2021 and we welcome the sector’s commitment to engage with their tenants to make the strategy successful. It sets out our overarching framework for engaging the public and communities on climate change. We encourage the sector to engage with their tenants using the approach set out, to ensure meaningful engagement and two-way dialogue. We will publish a Heat in Buildings Public Engagement Strategy in 2023 and will work with social landlords to ensure its implementation and support engagement with tenants.

Action 24.

As part of its public engagement strategy, the Scottish Government should develop tailored communication materials to support the rollout of unfamiliar technologies alongside a national winter education campaign to promote home energy efficiency, including heating and ventilation practices. This should include clear routes to ongoing advice and support to minimise any potential negative impacts (e.g. disruption, increased fuel bills or rent, or operational issues).

Scottish Government response

We agree that there is a need for enhanced communication to support delivery and increase understanding and awareness. The Scottish Government will take forward national awareness campaigns as part of our wider framework to support engagement activities from national to local levels, to be developed in the upcoming Heat in Buildings Public Engagement Strategy.

This will set out action to increase understanding of the changes we need to see in how we heat our homes and buildings, and why; raise the profile of energy efficiency and net zero carbon heating options so that people are aware of the benefits and begin to see them as a positive choice. It will also set out actions to raise awareness of the support and advisory services available to maximise uptake of the support available.

Home Energy Scotland, is funded by the Scottish Government, to provide free, impartial advice on energy savings.

The Scottish Government is only one of the messengers in this space. Social landlords and local authorities have an important role themselves in communicating the changes that are required and we will work with the social housing sector to ensure effective tenant engagement.

Action 25.

National and local government should work together to ensure early and meaningful engagement with social landlords and their tenants as part of the development of LHEES and community climate action initiatives, in order that social tenants are included in and consulted on decisions on heat decarbonisation in their community. The development of LHEES should take cognisance of social landlord investment plans and include them as a consultee in the development of LHEES Delivery Plans.

Scottish Government response

The Scottish Government is working with local authorities to prepare and publish LHEES. These LHEES will set out the long-term plan for decarbonising heat in buildings and improving energy efficiency across an entire local authority area. The Strategies will form a basis for local public engagement, awareness raising and involvement in decision making at the local level, and will facilitate extensive engagement with local communities. We recognise that this needs to be flexible, to allow engagement to be adapted and tailored to the local context. We would anticipate that a range of officers across the local authority would be involved in preparing the LHEES, including housing and as part of this process would engage social landlords and tenants where they deem appropriate.

Action 26.

The Scottish Government should increase investment in local advice services, including those provided by social landlords, in addition to that in government-funded services such as Home Energy Scotland.

Scottish Government response

The Scottish Government agrees that advice services are crucial in a just transition to net zero. The Scottish Government is allocating over £2.9 million in additional support in 2022-23 for the Home Energy Scotland Advice and Support Service to allow its capacity to increase by 20% in response to the cost of living crisis.

Action 27.

Emergency redress funds should be made available to social landlords and their tenants, providing an additional safety net which protects those on low incomes from being negatively impacted by the rollout of new technologies.

Scottish Government response

The Scottish Government is committed to a just transition and this includes the consideration of tenants in or at risk of fuel poverty. We are also acutely aware of the current cost of living crisis and the concerns that both social landlords and tenants have regarding the potential hidden costs of the adoption of zero emissions solutions.

The deployment of appropriate zero emissions technology and fabric upgrades should have a positive impact on tenants’ fuel bills through making homes more efficient and easier to heat.

For those who continue to be at risk, we have made £10 million available to Third Sector Organisations to support those facing fuel insecurity through our Fuel Insecurity Fund. Working in partnership with the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, we are also making funding available to Registered Social Landlords, to ensure support is offered to social housing tenants across Scotland.

Through all of the projects supported by the Fuel Insecurity Fund, we will seek to ensure that those receiving help are not just provided with financial support but that they are also connected with wider advice and support on energy efficiency, income maximisation and how to reduce energy bills.

The Scottish Government continues to engage the UK Government to ensure that energy consumers are supported and are using our devolved powers where these can help support households challenged by the cost of living situation we currently face.

Action 28.

The Scottish Government should progress planned work to achieve a cross tenure quality standard that will underpin the transition to decarbonised housing, per its commitment in Housing to 2040.

Scottish Government response

The Housing to 2040 Route Map commits the Scottish Government to consult on a new housing standard for Scotland. This vision is a shift away from the existing Tolerable Standard towards the underlying principle that adequate housing is a human right. Our aim is that the new standard will cover all homes new or existing, including agricultural properties, mobile homes and tied accommodation. We aim to ensure that there will be no margins of tolerance, no exemptions and no “acceptable levels” of sub-standard homes in urban, rural or island communities, deprived communities or in tenements. This will mean our existing homes will keep pace with new homes, with no one left behind. This standard is being developed in tandem with work to develop heat and energy efficiency standards to ensure alignment and coherence.



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