A ‘one-stop shop’ approach to tackle fuel poverty has been recommended by the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee in a report published today.
The report recommends the use of trusted intermediaries to provide information on access to energy efficiency and energy saving schemes, instead of the multiple agency approach currently taken. The committee believes that use of such intermediaries would go some way to eradicate fuel poverty which it calls the ‘blight on our society’.
Committee Convener Murdo Fraser MSP said: “It is estimated that up to 35% of households in Scotland are living in fuel poverty.
"The lack of a clear message about what is available is preventing consumers getting the help they need to break free from fuel poverty.
“We believe a proactive approach is needed to reach the most vulnerable households.
"The use of a trusted intermediary as a ‘one-stop shop’ source of information and advice would remove many of the barriers which stop consumers from accessing the schemes available.”
Basing the trusted intermediaries in local authorities would, the committee believes, allow local circumstances to be taken into account and would ensure consistency of approach in accessing help.
The committee intends to keep the subject of fuel poverty under review and monitor the progress being made to reduce fuel poverty by the energy companies, the regulator and the Scottish Government.
During a series of focussed evidence sessions, the committee took evidence from a range of organisations including Energy Action Scotland, Highland Council and Scottish Power.
Fuel poverty is defined in the fuel-poverty statement published in 2002 under section 88 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001, by the then Scottish Executive. Under this definition, a household is in fuel poverty if it required to spend more than 10% of its income on all household fuel use.
According to the Scottish Government’s Scottish Condition Survey, an estimated 658,000 households were in fuel poverty in Scotland in 2010, which equates to 28% of all households. Scottish Government estimates for 2011 suggest that this figure will rise to 35%
- Picture of bar heater © Craig Haybittle/iStockphoto