A powerful alliance of over 50 civic organisations is today calling on the Scottish Government to end the blight of Scotland’s draughty, unhealthy homes by 2025.
The group, ranging from the Church of Scotland to the Federation of Master Builders, says the Scottish Government must take a long-term approach to improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s buildings. By doing so many benefits will be realised, including helping to reduce fuel poverty, cutting household fuel bills, lowering climate change emissions, creating jobs and preventing ill-health.
A key driver of cold homes is fuel poverty when people choose between heating and eating. According to the Scottish Government: “Between 2012 and 2013, fuel poverty increased by 4 percentage points from 35.2% to 39.1%. This represents an increase of around 100,000 households from the previous year, reaching 940,000 in 2013. Around 252,000 of these households (10.5%) were in extreme fuel poverty. This increase was driven by a 7% increase in fuel prices between 2012 and 2013.”
The Civic Alliance call follows an announcement in June 2015 from the Scottish Government that it intends to make home energy efficiency a National Infrastructure Priority. The groups are calling for the Scottish Government to set an ambitious goal for that project, by committing to a goal that by 2025 all homes in Scotland are at least an Energy Performance Certificate band ‘C’.
Alan Ferguson, Chair of the Existing Homes Alliance said: “It was great to see the Scottish Government’s commitment to make energy efficiency a National Infrastructure Priority. This is vital if we as a nation are to end fuel poverty blighting our homes and step up to the challenge of climate change. However, we now need to see concrete proposals and clear goals from the Scottish Government to make this happen. These should include a goal of helping all homes reach a C energy performance standard by 2025, and a commitment to major long-term funding to support investment in energy efficiency.
The National Records of Scotland Winter Mortality on Scotland report states: “Comparing the number of deaths in the four winter months with the average for the two adjacent four-month periods, the seasonal increase in mortality in winter 2013/14 was 1,600… [which] was around 400 below the corresponding value of 2,000 for winter 2012/13, and was the second lowest of any of the 63 winters for which such a figure has been calculated.”
Martin Crewe, Director of Barnardo’s Scotland said: “Too many children across Scotland are growing up in cold homes, with fuel poverty affecting four in every ten households. The comprehensive Marmot review  showed that this more than doubles their chances of suffering respiratory conditions like asthma, as well as impacting adversely on mental health, educational attainment and emotional wellbeing. Supporting all homes to reach a C standard will improve the physical and emotional health of families across Scotland and help to improve the life chances of Scotland’s most vulnerable children.”
Housing conditions are the other driver. A Scottish Government report on the state of Scottish housing stock identified that: “between 2012 and 2013 there was a 3 points drop in basic disrepair from 81% to 78% of dwellings in Scotland. Extensive disrepair remained similar to 2012 levels, at 7% in Scotland overall.”
Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary said: “Improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes is a huge opportunity to build a stronger economy and a more just Scotland. Research shows that bringing all homes up to at least a C energy performance standard would create 8-9,000 jobs a year distributed across communities in Scotland, new training and skills development opportunities and offer an excellent return on investment in generating employment and economic growth compared to other infrastructure investments.”