Scottish house condition survey: 2017 key findings

Indicators from the 2017 survey, including updated fuel poverty rates, energy efficiency ratings, carbon emissions and Scottish Housing Quality Standard.

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1 Introduction

1. The statistics reported in this publication are based on a national survey of the housing stock, the only one of its kind in Scotland, which is part of the Scottish Household Survey (SHS). Until 2012 it was carried out as a stand-alone survey under the name Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS). Following the review of the large-scale Scottish population surveys, the SHCS was incorporated within the SHS and became one of its modules. We continue to report the results from this module of the SHS under the name Scottish House Condition Survey.

2. The SHCS consists of an interview with householders and a physical inspection of the dwelling they occupy, which provides a picture of Scotland’s occupied housing stock. It covers all types of households and dwellings across the country - whether owned or rented, flats or houses. The physical data about the dwelling is recorded by surveyors trained to collect detailed information on housing characteristics. This is combined with information about the household collected through a face to face interview with the householder. The interview covers a range of topics such as household characteristics, tenure, neighbourhood satisfaction, dwelling satisfaction, health status, income, etc. The result is a unique and powerful data set for examining the condition and characteristics of Scotland’s housing stock alongside the views and experience of the people living in those dwellings.

3. This is the fourteenth ‘Key Findings’ report since the SHCS changed to a continuous format in 2003 and the sixth since it was integrated within the SHS. Details on the methodology and design of the survey are provided in the SHS Technical Report published on the Scottish Government website[2]. The incorporation of the SHCS within the SHS in 2012 introduced some discontinuities in the methodology of the survey and may contribute to some observed change over time.

4. In 2017 there were 3,002 surveyed properties. Statistics published in this report are based on fieldwork undertaken during 2017. A small proportion (5%) of the household interviews took place in the first quarter of 2018.

5. In 2009, the SHCS was designated as a National Statistics product by the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA). This demonstrates that the SHCS statistics are accurate, trustworthy and compliant with the high standards required of National Statistics.

6. In 2013 and 2014, there were changes made to the methodology used to analyse energy performance of the housing stock. This affects the comparability over time of statistics on energy efficiency, fuel poverty and carbon emissions from housing. Data presented in this report clearly highlights where methodology changes have occurred. Details of the impact of these methodology changes are published in the Key Findings reports and Methodology Notes for 2013[3] and 2014[4]. There have been no further changes to the energy modelling methodology and the current 2017 Key Findings report is based on the same methodology used in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

7. The 2014 Key Findings report also introduced some improvements to the method for determining the cost of the energy required to maintain an appropriate standard of heating and other energy use which underpins the fuel poverty estimates. Details on the nature of the changes and their impact are provided in the 2014 Methodology Notes[5] publication. In the 2016 survey, a further small improvement through the collection of information about pre-payment meters for energy supply was introduced. This has allowed us to improve the accuracy of fuel price information for these customers. The current report continues to use these improved methods for setting the cost of the domestic energy requirement.

8. There are no other significant methodological changes in this year’s report in comparison to the previous publication. We always seek to improve and keep our methods and processes up to date and there may therefore be small changes to elements of data processing which do not impact significantly on the results. In such cases details are provided in the respective technical sections.

9. Differences between years or across characteristics are only highlighted in the commentary of this report if they are statistically significant. On occasion we also note where a difference is not statistically significant, particularly if it might appear large to the reader. Large differences which are not significant can occur if the statistic is based on a small sample size. Please see Chapter 7 for further details of confidence intervals, design effects and statistical significance.

10. The remainder of this report covers the following topics:

  • Key Attributes of the Scottish Housing Stock: this chapter describes key characteristics of the housing stock such as dwelling type and age of construction, their location in relation to the gas grid, and the characteristics of the households that occupy them.
  • Energy Efficiency: this chapter presents an analysis of the energy efficiency of the housing stock including presence and level of insulation.
  • Fuel Poverty: this chapter presents an analysis of the number and characteristics of households in fuel poverty and extreme fuel poverty. It also examines the key drivers of fuel poverty and how they have changed over time.
  • Perceptions and Experiences: this chapter examines householders’ reports of their experience and satisfaction with heating and the extent to which they monitor their use of energy.
  • Housing Conditions: this part of the report provides information on the number of dwellings in compliance with the tolerable standard and the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS). It also covers the presence of dampness, condensation and disrepair as well as some indicators of overcrowding and under-occupation.
  • Technical Notes: the final chapter in the report provides information about the content of the survey and the definition of some of the key concepts used. Discussion on the statistical reliability of the estimates is also included.
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