Memorandum submitted by Baxi Group (FP 59)



Fuel Poverty in Scotland





1. Of the three main causes of fuel poverty, energy efficiency is devolved to the Scottish Parliament but energy regulation (including prices) and income/benefits are matters reserved to the UK Government.


2. The latest Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS) Key Findings 2008 report confirms expectations that levels of fuel poverty have again risen. In 2008 618,000 (27%) households in Scotland were estimated to be in fuel poverty. This represents an increase on the previous year of 5.5% and an increase of 116% on the 2002 figures, when energy prices were last at a low level.


Around 800,000 households - 1 in 3 - in Scotland are estimated by Energy Action Scotland to be fuel poor currently. This estimate is based on the figures above and the SHCS equation that for every 1% increase in energy prices (all else being equal) then 8,000 more Scottish households become fuel poor.


3. The Scottish Government is required to eradicate fuel poverty in Scotland, as far as is practicable, by 2016 by the Housing (Scotland) Act 200. How this will be achieved is laid out in the Scottish Fuel Poverty Statement. The Statement is due to be reviewed in 2010.


4. Together with other stakeholders, Energy Action Scotland is a member of the Scottish Fuel Poverty Forum. The Forum was reconvened by Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing to advise the Scottish Government on how it could improve progress towards the target to eradicate fuel poverty.





Hard to Treat Homes


Hard - or expensive - to treat homes are those that cannot have their energy efficiency improved by cost effective measures such as cavity wall or loft insulation and/or which do not have access to an inexpensive fuel or a favourable energy tariff.


Many of the current grant schemes aimed at improving the energy efficiency of homes focus on providing cavity wall and loft insulation. However, around 25% of all homes in Scotland do not have a loft, due to the large number of flatted and tenemental properties that are prevalent in many of our cities and towns. Around a third of homes in Scotland do not have masonry cavity walls and so cannot take cavity wall insulation. In addition, Scotland has 10% of dwellings classified as 'non-traditional', split between concrete, timber and metal-framed housing. All these types of property are 'hard to treat' in energy efficiency terms.



Rural Housing


In Scotland, about 33% of homes are off the mains gas grid and are likely to remain so and therefore have no gas. Many fuel poor properties are in rural and remote areas where the cost of providing a gas supply would be uneconomic. These areas are then forced to use a restricted range of more expensive fuels to heat and provide power to their homes - such as solid fuel, domestic oil, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or all-electric. Moreover, unlike gas and electricity, these fuels are unregulated.


Energy Action Scotland believes that in rural areas it will be necessary to use market transformation initiatives to make new technologies such as solar water heating, biomass and heat pumps more affordable as current grant schemes are still not sufficient to stimulate demand for these technologies. These technologies will offer choice and possibly cheaper heating and electricity to off-grid homes.


Colder Climate


The Scottish House Condition Survey shows that 65% more fuel is used to heat a semi-detached house with gas central heating in Braemar than in Bristol. Energy Action Scotland therefore believes the Winter Fuel Payment should be weighted regionally to reflect this higher cost in Scotland.


March 2010