Energy Action Scotland seeks changes to winter payments to cut fuel poverty
Fuel poverty champions Energy Action Scotland is calling for winter fuel and cold weather payments to be more closely targeted at people who need it most.
The energy efficiency charity is calling for Scotland’s new administration to make changes to the way fuel payments are made to help lift thousands of households out of fuel poverty.
Energy Action Scotland chief executive, Frazer Scott, said: “The devolution of Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments offer significant opportunities for these benefits to be focused towards those on low incomes, living in homes with high heat demand.
“Overnight a new administration could lift thousands out of fuel poverty by targeting benefits and giving more support to those who need it most.
“We are also urging a rethink of how Cold Weather Payments are made to reduce the number of consecutive days it needs to be below zero degrees and to consider increasing the temperature at which this payment is triggered.”
Fuel costs remain a critical issue in Scotland with 25% of all households living in fuel poverty as defined by the Scottish Government as any household spending more than 10% of their income on energy - after housing costs have been taken out.
Changes to fuel benefit payments was just one of a number of key areas that Energy Action Scotland wanted a new incoming government to address.
Frazer said that the gradual move away from fossil fuels to a carbon neutral society was a huge opportunity to get rid of fuel poverty altogether.
He added: “As we move from primarily gas to electric heating we need to make sure that this is done with everyone in mind and that those currently living on the margins are brought along.
“But it’s not just about energy consumption we are looking at a massive retrofit of homes to ensure that they meet much tighter environmental standards.
“Although a huge challenge, it is also a huge opportunity to banish fuel poverty once and for all.
“We want to focus minds across the political spectrum on how best to tackle this issue. The Scottish Parliament has the levers to make a real difference to fuel poor households over the course of the next parliamentary session.”
The charity also called for a fast track for new of regulations for minimum standards of energy efficiency in the private rented sector.
“Great progress has been made across social landlords in improving energy efficiency with their homes, but there needs to be more focus on compelling private landlords to invest in improving their properties,” added Frazer.
Energy Action Scotland’s full election manifesto can be viewed here.