End fuel poverty by 2032, Scottish Government urged

By Katrine Bussey, Political Editor, Press Association Scotland
Labour will attempt to amend legislation currently going through the Scottish Parliament.

Labour is demanding the Scottish Government be more ambitious in its efforts to tackle fuel poverty by pledging to eradicate the problem entirely by 2032.

The Scottish Government’s current target is to reduce the number of households affected by fuel poverty – those who have to spend more than 10% of their income on energy bills – to 5% by 2040.

But with the issue affecting almost a quarter of all homes in Scotland – some 613,000 households, according to Energy Action Scotland – Labour insists more needs to be done.

It has pledged to bring forward amendments to the Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill, currently being considered by MSPs on Holyrood’s Local Government Committee.

Labour communities spokesman Alex Rowley said: “The last Labour government set ambitious targets on fuel poverty.

“It is time to reset those targets and match that ambition.

“No-one should be stuck in a cold, draughty home, but the government’s plans would mean that by 2040, 140,000 households could still be living in fuel poverty.

“Scotland should be bolder than that. That’s why I will be pushing and supporting amendments this week to create a target for no household in Scotland to be in fuel poverty by 2032.”

Kevin Stewart, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, said: “We are setting clear, ambitious targets in the Fuel Poverty Bill and have a strategy to reach them.

“The Local Government and Communities Committee, of which Alex Rowley is a member, scrutinised the bill, took evidence from a number of people and concluded that the 2040 target date was realistic and achievable.

“There is no credible alternative plan that shows that bringing the target date forward eight years could be achieved without major risk.

“This includes using costly lower carbon technologies, which could actually lead to increased fuel poverty levels due to higher installation or operating costs for householders or bringing forward mandatory intervention in homes.

“An unrealistic target ignores the many concerns that have been raised including from Cosla, which has said setting unrealistic targets is callous.

“We want all those involved to work towards credible targets that can be reached and not ones that are set up to fail.”