On Wednesday 16th November, MSPs debated the recent reports and recommendations of the Scottish Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group and the Scottish Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force, set up by the Scottish Government in 2015 to inform a new eradication strategy, which will be published in 2017.
A key recommendation of the strategic working group’s report was to review the very definition of fuel poverty, with recent research suggesting that a substantial amount of currently classified ‘fuel poor’ households would not be classified as ‘income poor’.
The Scottish Government has already announced the setting up of an independent expert group to review the definition of fuel poverty.
Speaking in the debate, Cunninghame South MSP Ruth Maguire welcomed the Government’s decisive response to this ‘most fundamental and urgent of the recommendations’, saying:
‘Reviewing the definition of fuel poverty is a vital first step in making sure that future action really makes a difference to those who need it most, and will pave the way for close and effective consideration of the other recommendations of the report.’
Ruth also highlighted the unprecedented amount spent by the current Government on fuel poverty and energy efficiency, citing, for example, the recent announcement of £10 million to help families in Cunninghame South and across Scotland to heat their homes this winter.
Looking to the future, Ruth drew attention to the fact that ‘energy efficiency’ has been designated as a national infrastructure priority, with the cornerstone project, Scotland’s energy efficiency programme, already being piloted in 11 areas with particularly high levels of fuel poverty, and on target to be commenced fully in 2018.