Charity calls for doubling of home energy efficiency spending to meet emissions targets
The Scottish Government must increase funding to help make homes more energy efficient to £256 million a year, according to Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).
The consumer charity said the move would be a vital step towards meeting the government’s climate change targets of net zero emissions by 2045.
Currently 13% of Scotland’s carbon emissions come from people’s homes. To reduce that, the Scottish Government’s target is to raise the energy performance of all homes in Scotland to at least a C rating (B rating for all social housing) by 2040.
New research by CAS estimates that the combined total investment required by the Scottish Government, homeowners and private landlords is likely to be at least £11 billion over the next twenty years, or £555m per year.
The charity believes the Scottish Government’s contribution towards this cost should be at least £256m per year, a doubling of its current £119m a year budget while still only amounting to 0.3% of Scottish public sector expenditure.
Markets spokesperson Dr Jamie Stewart said: “The Citizens Advice network in Scotland helps hundreds of thousands of people each year. We support bold targets on climate change but we want to ensure the cost of meeting those targets doesn’t fall on those least able to pay.
“That’s why increasing the funding for energy efficiency will help make Scotland’s homes easier to heat and reduce emissions at the same time – it’s a win-win.
“We welcome the Scottish Government’s Energy Efficient Scotland programme as it offers a long-term commitment to address a systemic problem over the next twenty years.
“But despite energy efficiency being designated as a National Infrastructure Priority four years ago, the amount of central funding available has remained the same.
“Improving energy efficiency of our homes is key to Scotland becoming ‘net zero’ but it is vital that the public and specifically those who are fuel poor aren’t hit the hardest by the drives to meet climate targets.
“Doubling the budget for Energy Efficient Scotland will not only make increased financial support available for those who need it but should be used to raise awareness of schemes and incentives.
“It should also be used to jump-start the momentum within the social and private rented sectors and strengthen consumer protection and enforcement of traders installing energy efficiency measures.”
The Scottish Government said a new, legally binding standard for home energy efficiency from 2024 onwards is being proposed to help tackle climate change and eradicate fuel poverty.
It is launching a consultation seeking views from homeowners on what this standard may look like, and how they can help people meet it.
Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “By the end of 2021, we will have allocated more than £1 billion since 2009 to tackle fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency to make homes warmer and cheaper to heat.”
Meanwhile, new figures have revealed that the Citizens Advice network in Scotland unlocked financial gains worth almost £1.3bn for people in the past decade.
Analysis of network data reveals that, since the financial year 2009/10, Scottish CAB advisers have delivered the equivalent of £1.29bn for people who turned to the network for help.
This figure includes:
- Social security entitlements
- Debt that has been written off following specialist CAB advice
- Pay and entitlements owed by employers
- Tax savings and rebates
- Compensation on consumer issues like utilities and travel
- Foodbank referrals
CAS is calling on policy-makers – including the UK and Scottish governments, as well as industry, regulators and councils – to make a New Year’s resolution to put the cost of living at the heart of their policies next year.
During the General Election campaign, the charity published its annual state of the nation report, Advice in Scotland, which highlighted more than a doubling of advice issued on Universal Credit in 2018/19 to almost 40,000, over 100,000 pieces of advice issued in relation to debt and over 40,000 pieces of advice issued in relation to employment, with pay and entitlements the top concern.
CAS chief executive Derek Mitchell said: “With a footprint in every community in the country the Citizens Advice network in Scotland helps hundreds of thousands of people each year, and in the past decade we have unlocked staggering amounts of money for the people who have turned to us for help.
“Last year alone our network put £131m back into people’s pockets – and the figure for the last decade has been almost £1.3bn.
“That’s money that’s been put back into household budgets, communities and local high streets, and it shows how complex the economy can be for people to navigate, whether it’s the welfare state, rights at work as a consumer.
“As a new decade dawns we want to see policymakers – whether they are in parliament, government, council chambers or industry – to really put living standards at the heart of their policy agenda.
“For other people seeking to navigate the bills that fall through the letterbox in the New Year – the Citizens Advice network in Scotland is here to help.”