Tackling fuel poverty in Scotland: a strategic approach
The fuel poverty strategy sets out policies and proposals for national government, local authorities and third sector partners to help meet the targets set out in the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Act 2019.
Chapter 1 – Introduction
In 2019, we introduced the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Act 2019 ("the Fuel Poverty Act") which was passed unanimously by Parliament. The Fuel Poverty Act is the most ambitious and comprehensive fuel poverty legislation in the UK, setting us on a course to eradicate fuel poverty. It sets a new definition of fuel poverty and extreme fuel poverty, focusing on low-income households, no matter where they live in Scotland.
Our Fuel Poverty Strategy is rooted in the principle of social justice. Our vision is for everyone to have a warm, safe home that they can afford and that meets their needs, in a place where they want to live. Tackling the drivers of fuel poverty to ensure everyone can afford the energy they need to live comfortably is essential to achieving this vision.
Our commitment to a just transition to a net zero society means working to ensure that, as we transition Scotland's energy system, everyone in Scotland continues to have affordable access to energy. We also want to ensure that when people face difficulties in accessing affordable energy they do not face any stigma in seeking support and assistance.
In developing this Strategy, we have built upon the Draft Fuel Poverty Strategy,published in 2018, and have also carried out analysis of the data we hold on fuel poverty in Scotland to identify the characteristics of those households most likely to be in fuel poverty and most likely to be impacted by each of the drivers of fuel poverty. The full details of our analysis are set out in the supporting technical annex that accompanies the strategy.
To help build our understanding of the impact of fuel poverty, we also carried out two key pieces of research. Firstly, we carried out an Evidence Review to understand what is already known about life in fuel poverty. We then carried out Lived Experience Research where we spoke with households in fuel poverty from across Scotland to learn more about the barriers that they face and to gain their views on the support required. Throughout the development of this Strategy, we highlight what those with lived experience have told us.
SG Action - Working with the Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel, we will explore the opportunities to carry out further lived experience research and build on our existing evidence base
This Strategy also sets out the wider actions we will take to support all households in fuel poverty. Across all of our activity, we will ensure our approach is informed by the realities of living in fuel poverty and ensures respect and dignity for those we seek to help.
Changing context of fuel poverty
In the 3 years since the Draft Fuel Poverty Strategy was published, much has changed in Scotland. As a result of the global climate emergency, we are taking action to decarbonise the way we heat our homes whilst ensuring we continue to tackle fuel poverty, ensuring our approach is fair and leaves no one behind during the transition.
As we note in our Heat in Buildings Strategy, zero emissions heating systems can be more expensive to run than high emissions alternatives. This poses new challenges that must be addressed so that we can meet our commitment to ending fuel poverty. We remain steadfast in our commitment to tackling fuel poverty as we decarbonise the heat supply to our homes.
As well as the climate emergency, Scotland has, of course, had to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that the direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic have been devastating for individuals and communities across the whole of Scotland.
The speed with which the pandemic impacted household finances - due to drops in income combined with increasing energy bills- highlighted how quickly households can move into fuel poverty as a result of a sudden change in circumstances.
COVID-19 also shone a new light on the importance of the home as a safe haven, bringing to the fore inequality in housing experience. Those in fuel poverty not only had to worry about meeting the cost of increased energy usage but also had to find new ways to adapt to meeting their essential needs.
As part of the response to COVID-19, we acted quickly to ensure that appropriate support was available for those struggling with increased household energy bills during the pandemic. We did this through our Wellbeing and Supporting Communities Funds, with further funding provided to third sector organisations through the Winter Plan for Social Protection. As part of the Winter Support Fund, we are making a further £10 million available to third sector partners to support those facing fuel insecurity this winter.
Since the publication of the Draft Fuel Poverty Strategy, we have also published Housing to 2040, Scotland's first ever long-term national housing strategy.
Our vision is for everybody living in Scotland to be able to enjoy a warm, comfortable and safe place to live. To achieve this we will take action to make the right to an adequate home a reality for everyone in Scotland. This will include the introduction of a new Housing Standard so that all homes, no matter what their tenure, are required to meet the same standards. 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. This will mean our existing homes will keep pace with new homes, with no one left behind.
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