Fuel poverty funding cut by 10%, says Labour


The Scottish Government has cut funding for fuel poverty by more than a 10th, according to Labour.

Last month, the Government committed £103 million to improve energy efficiency and tackle fuel poverty in its Draft Budget 2016/17.

In 2014, the Government committed £79 million for energy efficiency in its draft budget 2015/16.

In February 2015, further pledges from John Swinney and a departmental reshuffle increased the total available budget to £119 million.

However, the draft budget 2016/17 said the energy efficiency budget for the previous year was only £89 million, suggesting the current £103 million was an increase on the previous year.

Scottish Labour communities spokesman Ken Macintosh said the public would be "utterly baffled" by the figures.

"Given what is happening across the country following the flooding, people need help more than ever to heat their homes," he said.

"In 2001 the last Labour-led Scottish government said everyone in Scotland deserves a decent, warm and secure home and we set an ambitious target to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016.

"It is a target the SNP Government in Edinburgh is going to miss by a country mile and it makes no sense to respond by cutting the fuel poverty budget by a staggering £15 million. This isn't standing up for Scotland - it is accepting austerity.

"With huge new powers over tax and social security coming to Scotland, no family should face a choice between heating and eating.

"Scottish Labour has committed to a ground-breaking Scottish Warm Homes Act. This will deliver important changes in planning and building regulations to further help Scotland tackle fuel poverty.

"We will also adopt energy efficiency as a National Infrastructure Project and we will look at ways to better support the most vulnerable insulate their homes.

"We have the opportunity to do things differently in Scotland and after eight years in government, a majority in parliament and more powers than ever before, there are no excuses for the SNP on this."

In October 2014, the draft budget 2015/16 said: "The Scottish Government is committed to tackling fuel poverty and has allocated £79 million in 2015/16."

In February 2015, Energy Action Scotland and WWF told MSPs this money was inadequate.

Mr Swinney responded: "We will increase investment in domestic energy efficiency by £20 million to provide a total budget of £114 million in 2015/16."

Following the transfer of responsibility between directorates within Scottish Government which had previously jointly funded advice and support, the total available budget for 2015/16 became £119 million, according to the Scottish Parliament Information Centre.

In December 2015, the draft budget 2015/16 said: "We will be making available over £100 million to tackle fuel poverty and climate change and help improve the condition of Scotland's homes."

More detailed spending plans said the fuel poverty/energy efficiency budget was £89 million for 2015/16 and £103 million for 2016/17.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Labour's claims are simply untrue - the draft budget figures we published last month show an increase of £14 million in the fuel poverty budget compared to the draft budget for 2015/16. That is an increase from £89 million to £103.3 million on a like-for-like comparison.

"The SNP Government has allocated over half a billion pounds since 2009 on a raft of fuel poverty and energy efficiency programmes to help the most vulnerable people in our society heat their homes affordably.

"In contrast, the only funding announced for fuel poverty and domestic energy efficiency in the UK Tory Government's autumn statement was through energy supplier obligations, which is a regressive form of taxation - our £100 million is £100 million more than UK Government is providing to help people have warm, affordable homes."