Scottish Parliament set to vote on fuel poverty amendments
MSPs will vote on a series of amendments to the Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill as the proposed legislation begins its third stage of proceedings today.
The amendments, which would set new targets to eradicate fuel poverty eight years earlier than the current plan, will be put forward by Scottish Labour’s Alex Rowley at Holyrood.
Under the proposals, the Scottish Government will be expected to end the scandal of fuel poverty by 2032.
Scottish Labour will also table plans that would compel the government to lay out how they will make homes more energy efficient across the spectrum of housing tenures including the private rented sector.
Alex Rowley MSP, Scottish Labour’s local government spokesperson, said: “It is a scandal than in an energy rich country like Scotland people are forced to choose between heating their homes or eating.
“Fuel poverty is a scourge on our society, and one the SNP government should be focused on ending as soon as possible.
“The government are not coming close to doing everything they can to improve energy efficiency and reduce fuel poverty across Scotland and funding consistently falls short of what is required for a National Infrastructure Project.
“That’s why Scottish Labour will be putting forward proposals to end fuel poverty eight years earlier than planned.”
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has called for the Scottish Parliament to be bold in tackling fuel poverty as the Bill gets its third reading.
The charity said Stage 3 of the Bill comes at a critical time in the debate over energy costs in Scotland. Renewed definitions of fuel poverty published in May revealed that 583,000 Scottish households were in fuel poverty and 293,000 were in extreme fuel poverty. And just this week CAS found that one tenth of Scots who are in work have had to miss paying gas or electricity bills at least once in the last year because they have run out of money.
Data published by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) this week also shows that increasing numbers of tenants are self-disconnecting from their power or heating as a result of fuel poverty.
CAS said it supports further amendments to Stage 3 of the Bill which include setting a more ambitious target for eradicating fuel poverty in Scotland and ensuring that this is achieved by tackling what we see as the four key drivers of fuel poverty: household incomes; energy prices; energy efficiency and how energy is used in the home.
Ahead of the debate, Dr Jamie Stewart, energy spokesperson for CAS, said: “This bill is a unique opportunity for the Scottish Parliament to be bold in its approach to tackling an issue that is affecting a significant number of people in Scotland.
“The problems of fuel poverty are all too familiar to the Citizens Advice network in Scotland. We help hundreds of thousands of people each year and many thousands of our clients are concerned about energy costs. That one in 10 working people haven’t been able to afford an energy bill at some point in the past year should spur MSPs into urgent action.
“Tackling fuel poverty is a vital part of creating a fairer society. The Fuel Poverty Strategy will be tasked with delivering on the commitments enshrined in this Bill, so it is important that the legislation provides appropriate levels of scrutiny and sets bold targets.
“We hope MSPs today seize this opportunity to take decisive action to help some of society’s most vulnerable people.”