Age Scotland has been an active member of the Scottish Fuel Poverty Forum since it was re-established in 2008.
During this time, we have represented the voices of older people, the challenges they face in keeping their homes comfortably warm and how government programmes can support householders to improve the efficiency of their homes and ensure further assistance is available to those living in fuel poverty.
The remit of the Forum is to monitor the implementation of the Scottish Government’s various energy efficiency programmes, to advise Ministers on further actions required and to liaise with the Forum’s equivalent in Westminster to ensure Scottish interests are fed into reserved policy areas.
The Forum’s final report on its review of the Scottish Government's fuel poverty strategy was published on 24 March 2014 and is available to download here. In 2015, the Chair of the Forum published his first annual Chair’s report, available to download here.
This report summarises the context of fuel poverty in Scotland and the UK and sets out the Forum’s current strategic priorities in addressing these challenges.
Age Scotland is committed to the work of this Forum with particular regards to raising awareness of the support and resources available to improving energy efficiency in the homes of older people.
Background – target, definition and prevalence
The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 (section 88) compelled the Scottish Government to eradicate fuel poverty, as far as is reasonably practicable, by the end of 2016.
Three factors influence fuel poverty – a household’s income, the price of fuel and the energy efficiency of the dwelling.
A household is considered to be in fuel poverty if, in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime, it would be required to spend more than 10% of its income on all household fuel use. There has been some debate over this definition and further reading can be found in this evidence review commissioned by the Forum.
Recent research illustrates:
- In 2014, over half of single pensioner households (58 per cent) live in fuel poverty. While nearly half (44 per cent) of pensioner couples live in fuel poverty.
- Over a third of all households in Scotland in 2014 live in fuel poverty (34.9 per cent), with pensioner householders in particular feeling the effects of this.
- Fuel poverty rates are higher in rural areas at 50% than urban areas at 32%.
- Between 2003/4 and 2014, fuel prices rose significantly faster than household incomes. Over that period, the rise in the average price of fuel almost trebled for Scottish households. In 2013 – 2014, the average price of fuel increased by 3.5%
- It’s estimated that for every 5 per cent increase in energy prices this pushes as many as an extra 46,000 Scottish households (2%) into fuel poverty.