Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is a member of the Scottish Government's Regulation of Energy Efficiency in the Private Sector (REEPS) working group. This is a stakeholder advisory group drafting regulations for consultation that will help the Scottish Government improve the energy efficiency of Scotland’s existing private sector housing stock. To support this work CAS commissioned independent research that could help the working group better understand homeowners’ and private rented tenants’ attitudes and awareness of energy efficiency measures, including the potential barriers to taking action and consumers’ likely response to any future regulation. The full research report is available separately.
This accompanying evidence review complements the commissioned research by summarising the key findings from four focus groups, and brings these findings together with additional evidence collected by the Scottish Citizens Advice service. These further insights have helped identify the everyday realities for many Scottish households unable to adequately heat their homes or who live in poor quality housing, which can often lead to preventable health problems.
Our key conclusions and recommendations are:
- Consumer detriment in private sector housing makes a compelling case for introducing a minimum standard of energy efficiency, but this will need to include a trajectory for improving standards further in the future as ratings improve overall.
- Binding regulations need to be fully supported by a system of enforcement that the public has confidence in and which is perceived to be both fair and reasonable. This should include appropriate protections for tenants in the private rented sector so that rents are not unreasonably increased by landlords who will be obliged to improve their properties’ energy efficiency rating.
- Property owners will need adequate support and impartial advice, from trusted sources. In some instances this may need to include financial assistance. The Scottish Government should therefore explore appropriate funding streams to support compliance across the sector.
The Scottish Government’s consultation on draft regulations for introducing a minimum standard of energy efficiency in private sector housing will be launched later in 2015. CAS is working closely with other third sector organisations to press the Scottish Government to be ambitious when setting and enforcing a minimum standard of energy efficiency so that statutory targets on carbon emissions and fuel poverty rates are reduced.
For more information about the commissioned focus group research or this accompanying evidence review, please contact Fraser Stewart, Policy Officer - Energy, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone: 0131 550 1077.