Legislation to support people who struggle to pay their fuel bills, targeting those who need help the most, has been passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament today.
The Fuel Poverty Bill enshrines in law the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackle the root causes of fuel poverty and transform homes to be warmer and more energy-efficient.
The Bill defines a household to be in fuel poverty if more than 10% of its net income (after housing costs) is required to heat the home and pay for other fuel costs – with not enough money left for a decent standard of living. If more than 20% of net income is needed, the household is defined as being in extreme fuel poverty.
The new law sets a target of no more than 5% of Scottish households in fuel poverty by 2040, and no more than 1% of households being in extreme fuel poverty. There are also targets to reduce household fuel poverty levels as progress is made towards meeting the 2040 targets.
Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning Kevin Stewart said:
It is unacceptable that people are forced to choose between heating or cooking their dinner because they worry about fuel bills.
This is the most ambitious and comprehensive fuel poverty legislation in the UK, setting us on a course to provide greater help for people who need it most by defining fuel poverty more closely with income poverty.
This important bill will continue Scotland’s world-leading position as one of only a handful of countries to define fuel poverty, let alone set targets to eradicate it.
The innovative use of the Minimum Income Standard means that we have a definition which also takes into account household incomes. And with an uplift for remote rural and island areas recognising their higher cost of living, we are taking into account the different needs of all of Scotland.
The Bill’s targets are challenging, yet realistic, and achieving them will make a real difference and allows us to target our resources to best effect.
By 2021 the Scottish Government will have allocated over £1 billion to tackle fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency, through our programmes and schemes – making people’s homes warmer and cheaper to heat.
A new Fuel Poverty Strategy will be published a year after the relevant section of the Bill (Section 3) comes into force.
The Bill sets out plans for a new statutory Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel to ensure the Bill’s targets are met.
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