Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray and Dumfries & Galloway Council Leader Ronnie Nicholson have slammed the Scottish Government after new figures reveal that they are planning to cut the fuel poverty budget by £15 million – a 13% cut to the current budget.
The latest estimates suggest that 45% of households in Dumfries & Galloway live in fuel poverty and 63% of people over 60 in Dumfries & Galloway are in fuel poverty.
The local Labour politicians back plans for a Warm Homes Act, which will change building and planning regulations to tackle fuel poverty.
Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray said:
“No family in Dumfries & Galloway should have to choose between heating and eating. It’s an absolute scandal that 45% of households in our region are living in fuel poverty, so it beggars belief that the Scottish Government in Edinburgh are planning a huge cut to the fuel poverty budget. Fuel poverty is on the increase in Dumfries & Galloway and this cut will only increase it further. We need a different approach to helping hard working families in our region who are struggling to pay their bills. That’s why we should support plans for a Warm Homes Act – to deliver important changes in planning and building regulations so we can tackle fuel poverty, live up to our aspirations to be a world leader in tackling climate change and create vital jobs at the same time.”
Leader of Dumfries & Galloway Council, Ronnie Nicholson added:
“Fuel poverty is a real problem in Dumfries and Galloway, particularly for people with disabilities or long-term health problems and pensioners, 63% of whom are living in fuel poverty in the region. It is exacerbated in our region due to rurality making fuel prices higher and many homes not having access to mains gas. Tackling the scandal of fuel poverty is a keen aim of our recently agreed anti-poverty strategy but that will be undermined if the Scottish Government go ahead with this draconian cut in the budget.”
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
45% of households in Dumfries & Galloway in fuel poverty
Local Authority (LA)
% of Fuel Poor Households in LA
Dumfries and Galloway
Source: Scottish House Condition Survey - Local Authority Analyses for 2011-2013 - http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0046/00467518.xlsx
The town and country divide: the fuel poverty suffered by old people in rural areas - http://www.robedwards.com/2014/06/the-town-and-country-divide-the-fuel-poverty-suffered-by-old-people-in-rural-areas.html
A link to Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Anti-Poverty Strategy is here: http://www.dumgal.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=14236
The fuel poverty budget for 2016-17 has been cut:
After the SNP added Barnett consequentials to the budget for 2015-16, the fuel poverty budget available was £119m for 2015-16.
This has been confirmed by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) in a briefing to the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee in October 2015. The figure used in draft budget document for 2015/16 (£89m) was the figure at the time of the budget bill in February 2015.
Therefore, comparing the final budget for 2015-16 (£119m) to the draft budget for 2016-17 (£103.3m), the budget for fuel poverty/energy efficiency has been cut by £15.7 million.
Source: Scottish Government Spending Plans and Draft Budget 2016-17 -http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00491140.pdf (Table 9.03 Level 3 - page 86)
Source: SPICe briefing -http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_EconomyEnergyandTourismCommittee/Meeting%20Papers/20151028_Public_pack(1).pdf (Figure 4 - page 23 of the PDF)
Alan Ferguson Chair of The Existing Homes Alliance Scotland said:
“Just a day after we learnt that there has been no progress in reducing the 35 per cent of Scottish households living in fuel poverty, the draft budget for ending cold homes is less than was available this year.”
Norman Kerr, Director, Energy Action Scotland in evidence to Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee on October 28 2015 confirming the 2015-16 budget at £119m:
“We need continued funding. The budget—as you will have seen—has risen over the years. We have gone up from about £65 million, and bumped along for a couple of years, and the Scottish Government is now putting in £119 million.”