EAS Policy Position Statement – Rural Fuel Poverty

Energy Action Scotland considers that there still needs to be a publicly funded programme for those who cannot afford to pay for energy efficiency measures and energy advice and is concerned at the Scottish Government’s increasing focus on loans instead of grants as methods of support. Energy Action Scotland believes that a free, accessible, single point of access service that is designed to fit the needs of this particular group should direct consumers to the right scheme according to their needs and their ability to pay.

Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS)

Energy Action Scotland welcomed the launch by the Scottish Government in 2013 of the Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS) as we had advocated (along with the then Scottish Fuel Poverty Forum) that the worst areas should be prioritised through a national retrofit programme. This is why the Area Based Scheme (ABS) element of HEEPS is particularly useful as it recognises that there are people who, often for complex reasons, will not phone or approach others for help when it comes to living in a cold home. With ABS, help approaches the household and offers face-to-face delivery which is vital to get help to the most vulnerable.

While supporting the area-based approach of HEEPS: ABS, Energy Action Scotland strongly believes there also needs to be a national programme that offers assistance on a reactive basis to individuals.  There are individuals who are very much in need of immediate assistance but are outwith current ABS area.  We therefore support the continuation of support as provided by the HEEPS: Warmer Homes Scotland scheme and believe that this scheme should be scaled up significantly in order to meet the 2040 fuel poverty targets.

Energy Company Obligation (ECO)

The GB-wide ECO scheme has been directed by the UK Government and delivered as an obligation on the larger fuel companies.  This energy efficiency programme is significant as it provides a means of raising awareness of and funding energy efficiency improvements in homes, with its main focus on low income, fuel poor and vulnerable households  However, it has failed to adequately serve the more rural and remote areas of Scotland.

ECO has been devolved, under the Scotland Act, to the Scottish Government; however the Scottish Government has chosen not to create a Scottish ECO due to uncertainty about the long-term future of the scheme.  Energy Action Scotland believes ECO remains an important source of energy efficiency measures, despite the regressive nature of its funding.  However, Energy Action Scotland also welcomes the opportunity for the scheme to be better-suited to deliver in all areas of Scotland.

Other Programmes

All programmes which aim to help reduce the initial or overall costs of energy efficiency retrofitting or the overall costs of energy bills are welcomed by Energy Action Scotland. Programmes such as the Warm Home Discount and Winter Fuel Payments, Cold Weather Payments, are all acknowledged as being valuable and Energy Action Scotland recommends that funding for these should become long term.

For further information on programmes, see Policy, Legislation and Schemes