Proposed legislation which sets a new target relating to the eradication of fuel poverty is to be examined by the Local Government and Communities Committee.
The Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill sets a target of no more than 5 per cent of households living in fuel poverty by 2040. It also proposes a new definition of fuel poverty and requires the Scottish Government to publish a fuel poverty strategy, as well as a progress report every five years.
The Committee has today issued a call for views on the main provisions within the legislation and draft strategy.
Convener of the Local Government and Communities Committee, James Dornan MSP said:
“Having a warm home is a basic right and no-one should have to choose between heating and eating. The intention behind this Bill is therefore welcome.
“However, it is the role of the Committee to look at these proposals in detail to determine if the target is achievable and if the measures set out will make a real difference.
“We want to hear from a wide range of organisations, stakeholders and people from across Scotland to generate discussion on the key proposals set out in the Bill and most importantly how we tackle fuel poverty.”
The Committee welcomes views on any relevant matters raised in the Bill and has also prepared the following questions which might assist in structuring responses:
- Do you agree with the Scottish Government’s proposal to provide for a statutory target to reduce fuel poverty to no more than 5 per cent of Scottish Households by 2040?
- Do you agree with the Scottish Government’s proposals for a revised definition of fuel poverty?
- Do you agree with provisions in the Bill requiring the Scottish Government to publish a fuel poverty strategy? Do you also agree with the consultation requirements set out in relation to the strategy?
- A draft fuel poverty strategy was published alongside the Bill on 27 June. Do you have any views on the extent to which the measures set out in the draft Fuel Poverty Strategy for Scotland 2018 will contribute to meeting the Government’s new target? Have lessons been learned from previous initiatives?
- Do you have any views on the Scottish Government’s reporting requirements to the Scottish Parliament, as set out in the Bill.
The call for views will close on 9 November. Following the call for views, the Committee will hold a number of oral evidence sessions, with a final session with the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning.
The areas of the Bill that the Committee will scrutinise include:
- Section 1 sets out the Scottish Government’s target to reduce fuel poverty to no more than 5% of Scottish Households by 2040.
- Section 2 makes provision for a new definition of fuel poverty which calculates the proportion of household income required to maintain a satisfactory level of heating and assesses the extent to which households can then maintain an “acceptable standard of living” once housing and fuel costs are deducted.
- Sections 3-5 requires the Scottish Government to publish a fuel poverty strategy within a year of Section 3 of the Bill coming into force. These provisions require the Scottish Government to consult on the strategy, which must include consultation with individuals who are living, or have lived, in fuel poverty.
- Sections 6-9 require the Scottish Government to report to Parliament every five years on: the measures taken to tackle fuel poverty over the previous five years; progress made towards the 2040 target; and the steps Scottish Ministers propose to take over the next five years to meet the 2040 target.
- Sections 10-14 contain various modification and regulation-making powers, as well as the commencement powers and short title.
Under the proposed new definition of fuel poverty, a household’s required fuel costs must be more than 10% of household net income after deducting housing costs and the remaining household net income after the payment of fuel costs and childcare costs (if any) must also be insufficient to maintain an acceptable standard of living for the household.
The Scottish Government’s proposals for a Final Fuel Poverty Strategy is to be published at the end of 2019 onward.