The new draft Scottish Budget does not provide the ambition required to crack the problem of Scotland’s inefficient homes for good, according to the Existing Homes Alliance.
The Scottish Government’ announced that total spend on fuel poverty and home energy efficiency for the financial year 2017-18 will be set at £114m, a small increase on the 2016-17 figure of £103.3m, but a cut in comparison to the £119m
spent in 2015-16. It falls well below the £190m figure the Existing Homes Alliance believes is necessary to begin the transition to a programme capable of eradicating fuel poverty in Scotland and meeting our climate change targets. The additional £75m the
Alliance believes is required represents just under a quarter of 1% of the Scottish Government’s total expenditure.
Lori McElroy, chair of the Existing Homes Alliance, said:
“While today’s proposals do show a small increase in funding for fuel poverty and home energy efficiency work, it doesn’t even restore funding to the level it was at before last year’s cuts to this vital budget. Boosting home energy
efficiency budgets to the level required is perhaps the most effective way to deploy capital investment, given the wide range of social and economic benefits this work brings. After decades of missed opportunities, we had hoped the commitment to energy efficiency
as a National Infrastructure Priority would come with the transformative level of funding required to help people currently living in cold and draughty homes that are expensive to heat.
“Action to insulate cold homes will need to ramp up significantly in the coming years to tackle fuel poverty and climate change, and the supply chain stands ready to deliver. This is a missed opportunity to capture the massive benefits
that a bigger investment would bring. We understand the public finances remain under significant pressure, but the extra money needed here represents less than a quarter of 1 per cent of the Scottish Government’s overall spending.
“It’s also important to remember that this is just a draft Budget. There is still time for Ministers to improve their proposals and for opposition parties to make home energy efficiency a priority before a final Budget comes to Parliament
in January next year. Bold investment is required as a matter of urgency: the Alliance estimates the spend required for next year should be closer to £190m rather than £114m. We know that the recent UK Budget means substantial additional capital funds will
be available to the Scottish Government, more than enough to ensure the improved commitment we need to see here. The broad benefits of investing in improving cold and draughty homes – from more jobs and better health to lower fuel bills – mean there can be
no more obvious choice when Parliament is considering how to allocate those funds.”