Citizens Advice Scotland welcomes £9m fuel fund from @scotgov but says rural communities need more aid
CITIZENS ADVICE SCOTLAND (CAS) have urged the Scottish Government to do more to tackle fuel poverty in Scotland’s rural communities, which often are in the most dire need.
It also insisted that development of funding and strategies for dealing with fuel poverty have to be done at a local level and tailored to the specific needs to the area; as well as reducing the cost of energy itself.
The comments came in response to the announcement that £9m will be used by the Scottish Government to support local councils in tackling climate change and methods that make houses easier to heat.
“This is a positive step, but there is still a lot of work to be done to eradicate fuel poverty, and improving energy efficiency must go hand-in-hand with efforts to reduce the cost of energy and increase household incomes.” Craig Salter
Craig Salter, energy spokesperson for CAS said: “Far too many households across Scotland cannot afford to heat their homes – at present around 35 per cent of households are in fuel poverty. This funding is therefore very welcome, and it is encouraging to see the Scottish Government taking action.
“Improving energy efficiency is a fundamental aspect of addressing fuel poverty, and finding innovative, collaborative approaches at a local level is essential. As SEEP is rolled out, it is important to ensure that support reaches the areas that need it the most, including remote rural communities, and that measures fit the needs of those areas.
“This is a positive step, but there is still a lot of work to be done to eradicate fuel poverty, and improving energy efficiency must go hand-in-hand with efforts to reduce the cost of energy and increase household incomes.”
The number of households in extreme fuel poverty is at 9.5 per cent or 229, 000 person as of 2015.
There are several key regions that have been allocated a majority of the fund already with Aberdeen City taking £1,260,038, Edinburgh £1, 027, 774, Glasgow £620, 400, South Lanarkshire £597,013 and Stirling £1,075,850.
As yet the Scottish Government have not given a breakdown of how much money has been given to areas with greater amounts of rural homes affected by fuel poverty; neither has it made a difference between how much local councils will grant funds to businesses or individuals CAS households.
Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) Pathfinder Fund will be directed at businesses, community groups and individuals working and living in areas with particularly high levels of fuel poverty.
The full Scottish definition of fuel poverty according to the Scottish Fuel Poverty Statement of 2002 must be, “a household is in fuel poverty if, in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime, requires more than 10 per cent of its income to spend on all household fuel use. If over 20 per cent of income is required, then this is termed as being in extreme fuel poverty.”
“As SEEP is rolled out, it is important to ensure that support reaches the areas that need it the most, including remote rural communities, and that measures fit the needs of those areas.” Craig Salter
Currently the number of households in fuel poverty in Scotland stands at 34.9 per cent or an estimation of 845,000 people; whereas the number of households in extreme fuel poverty is at 9.5 per cent or 229,000 persons as of 2015.
Cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities Angela Constance said: “Since 2008 over one million energy efficiency measures have been installed in almost one million households across Scotland which has helped make homes warmer and easier to heat.
“Tackling fuel poverty is a priority for us, but we need to be creative if we want to make a real lasting difference. I look forward to seeing how councils can bring their innovative ideas to life to reduce energy bills and tackle fuel poverty in their communities.”
Picture courtesy of Nicole Quevillion
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