Amended Fuel Poverty Bill set for Royal Assent this summer
The Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill 2019 is expected to receive Royal Assent this summer after the legislation passed Stage 3 at Holyrood yesterday.
The Bill introduces a new statutory target for reducing fuel poverty so that by 2040 no household is living in fuel poverty as far as practicably possible.
However, in recognition that it may not be possible to completely eradicate fuel poverty, the target allows for a maximum of 5% of households to remain in fuel poverty, 1% in extreme fuel poverty and a fuel poverty gap of no more than £250 by the target date of 2040.
A proposed amendment to bring the target date forward to 2032 was defeated at the Stage 2 debate and again at Stage 3.
The Bill also introduces a new definition of fuel poverty based on a minimum income standard and places a duty on Ministers to introduce a Fuel Poverty Strategy setting out how the target will be achieved.
The Bill has been strengthened through amendments which introduce a new definition and target for reducing extreme fuel poverty, recognise the increased cost of living in remote and rural areas and increase scrutiny of progress towards meeting the new targets.
The Scottish Government has separately committed to introducing a suite of legislation to support Energy Efficient Scotland and cover minimum energy efficiency standards for private rented and owner occupied homes and low carbon heating.
Despite a previous target to eradicate fuel poverty as far as reasonably practicable by November 2016, 25% of households in Scotland are still living in fuel poverty.
Lori McElroy, chair of the Existing Homes Alliance Scotland, said: “While we had hoped for a more ambitious target date to tackle fuel poverty before 2040 we are pleased with the progress that has been achieved. We have been impressed with the breadth of support for our asks across the Parliament and are confident that the Bill has been strengthened through the amendments passed.
“The focus now must be on developing the Fuel Poverty Strategy and securing increased investment in energy efficiency measures, advice and support services to ensure that everyone in Scotland can live in a warm home.”