Scotland sees drop in number of homes suffering from fuel poverty
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Environment
The number of Scottish households living in fuel poverty has seen a major drop, new figures have revealed.
Statistics show that around 647,000 households (27.1% of all households) were estimated to be fuel poor in 2012, with required energy costs exceeding 10% of their income - 74,000 fewer compared to October 2011 when around 721,000 were fuel poor.
However, with around 170,000 households (7.1%) estimated to be in extreme fuel poverty with required energy costs exceeding 20% of their income, 2012 showed little improvement on 2011's figure of 8% of households.
The revelations come with today's publication of the 'Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS): Key Findings 2012 Report', as well as the SHCS Local Authority Report 2010-12.
The Key Findings Report includes statistics on the condition of Scottish homes, the number of households living in fuel poverty, the number of dwellings failing the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS), the energy efficiency of dwellings and other key descriptors of the occupied housing stock in Scotland.
The Local Authority Report contains similar figures but at local authority level using combined data over the three year survey period 2010-2012.
The reports' other main findings include:
• Since 2003/04 the number of dwellings with no loft insulation has reduced by two-thirds and in 2012 it represented just 2% of dwellings which can have loft insulation. The main improvement in insulation measures since 2011 has come from increasing the depth of loft insulation. In 2012 54% of dwellings with lofts had insulation of 200 mm or more and 17 % had loft insulation of 300 mm or more. This compares to 45% and 10% respectively in 2011.
• Since 2008 the proportion of insulated cavity wall dwellings has increased from 56% to 66%, representing 1,157,000 dwellings in 2012. This figure has not changed in the last year. About two-fifths, or around 256,000, of the cavity wall dwellings remaining uninsulated, would be considered ‘hard to treat’ under the definition applied in the UK government Energy Company Obligation (ECO) programme.
• There were substantial improvements in the energy efficiency of the housing stock. In 2012 the proportion of dwellings rated ‘good’ in terms of energy efficiency on the National Home Energy Rating scale (NHER 7-10) increased by 4 points to 69% compared to 65% in 2011. The proportion of those rated ‘poor’ (NHER 0-2) has not changed since 2008 and remain at 3%.
• For the first time since 2007, when measuring Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings in the SHCS began, the most common category in the Scottish housing stock is ‘C’. This is an improvement from the ‘D’ rating, which was most common previously. EPC ratings run from G (poor) to A (best). There were no dwellings rated A in the SHCS sample.
• Improved energy efficiency in the housing stock contributed two-thirds (around 1.9 percentage points) of the fall in fuel poverty between October 2011 and 2012, with increases in household income contributing a further third (around 1.1 percentage points). As fuel prices decreased by 2% over this period, there was little impact on the fuel poverty rate (i.e. around 0.3 percentage points).
• In 2012, approximately 46% of dwellings across the whole housing stock passed the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS), compared to 41% in 2011, an improvement of 5 points. This change was driven by improvements in the private housing sector, where pass rates increased from 39% in 2011 to 46% in 2012. SHQS pass rates in the social sector remained stable.
Households most likely to be in fuel poverty in 2012 were pensioners and single working age adults. Rural dwellings which are not on the gas grid are also more likely to be associated with fuel poverty.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “While today’s figures show a reduction in the number of households living in fuel poverty in 2012, it is an absolute scandal that people are still struggling with this issue in a country as energy rich as Scotland.
“We are doing everything we can within our limited powers to provide a wide range of energy efficiency measures to individual households and to local authorities. But we need the full powers of independence to fully tackle all the causes of fuel poverty.
“As well committing to invest at least £200 million a year in measures to tackle fuel poverty, in Scotland’s Future we set out how ‘green levies’ being funded by government rather than energy companies would reduce energy bills by around 5 per cent – or around £70 - every year.
“This is a fairer way of paying for energy efficiency measures than through people’s energy bills and would enable us to design a new means of funding, delivering energy efficiency improvements to Scottish homes that are fairer and better suited to our needs.
“In contrast, changes to the UK Government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) – announced during the chancellor’s autumn statement last week – will significantly reduce resources, cutting expenditure in Scotland for energy efficiency saving and fuel poverty measures and will put further improvements in serious danger.”