Citizens Advice Scotland has given a qualified welcome to the Scottish government’s Fuel Poverty Bill, published today, but we also set out ways in which more progress could be made.
CAS Energy spokesman Craig Salter says,
“The Fuel Poverty Bill is a step in the right direction. It is unacceptable that so many households in Scotland are in fuel poverty, so we welcome the new definition, renewed targets, and moves towards a new fuel poverty strategy.
“Our own research suggests that a change to the definition of fuel poverty may help to ensure that support reaches those who need it most. These include younger people, those who are renting their home and those who use electric heating.
“However, it is disappointing that the government has not included the recommendation of an enhanced Minimum Income Standard for people in remote rural areas, who often find it harder to afford their energy bills due to higher living costs. A new definition of fuel poverty should take this into account to ensure that it reflects the needs of these households.
“We are glad to see that the Scottish Government has strengthened its target to reduce fuel poverty, with a target of 5% instead of 10%. However, a timeframe of achieving this by 2040 could still see a generation of households living in fuel poverty, and this target could be achieved sooner.
“A new fuel poverty strategy must address all the drivers of fuel poverty, as improving energy efficiency alone will not end fuel poverty in Scotland. There is a real need for additional financial support to address rising energy costs and low incomes.”
Details of the bill can be found at http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/108916.aspx