Scots households living in ‘fuel poverty’

ALMOST one in four Scots households live in so-called ‘fuel poverty’.

According to figures released by the Scottish Government’s Chief Statistician, 2019 – the most recent year under consideration – saw the level of fuel poverty remaining broadly similar to the year before, 2018.

The survey found that 24.6 per cent (or 613,000) Scots households in 2019 as ‘fuel poor’, with 12.4 per cent (or 311,000) of households said to be living in ‘extreme fuel poverty’.

In 2018, 25 per cent (or 619,000) of households were ‘fuel poor’ and 11.3 per cent (or 279,000) of households living in ‘extreme fuel poverty’.

According to the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Act 2019 (here), a household is considered ‘fuel poor’ when, after housing costs have been deducted, more than ten per cent of net income (20 per cent for ‘extreme fuel poverty’) is required to pay for their ‘reasonable fuel needs’.

There is a further element to the definition: “After further adjustments are made to deduct childcare costs and any benefits received for a disability or care need, [a household’s] remaining income is insufficient to maintain an ‘acceptable standard of living’, defined as being at least 90 per cent of the UK Minimum Income Standard.”

Says the Scottish Government: “Statutory targets set by the 2019 Act are that in 2040: no more than five per cent of households should be in ‘fuel poverty’; no more than one per cent of households should be in ‘extreme fuel poverty’; and the median fuel poverty gap of households in fuel poverty is no more than £250 in 2015 prices before adding inflation.”

It continues: “Each of these 2040 targets must be achieved not only in Scotland as a whole, but also within each of the 32 local authority areas.  This is to ensure that no part of the country is left behind. There are also interim targets set for the same metrics at 2030 and 2035. However, the interim targets only need to be met at a national level.”

By contrast, in 2013, some 31.7 per cent (761,000) of Scottish households were considered ‘fuel poor’, with 16 per (384,000) living in ‘extreme fuel poverty’.

Adds the Chief Statistician of the latest figures: “The median fuel poverty gap (adjusted for 2015 prices) for fuel poor households in 2019 (£700) is higher than in 2018 (£610) but similar to the median gap in 2012 to 2017.

“In 2019, 45 per cent of Scottish homes were in the highest energy efficiency bands, C or better, and half had an energy efficiency rating of 67 or higher (using Standard Assessment Procedure 2012, Reduced Data Standard Assessment Procedure version 9.93).

“Using Standard Assessment Procedure 2009 allows the longer-term trend to be explored and shows strong improvement in the energy efficiency profile of housing. The share of those rated C or better, increased from 24 per cent in 2010 to 51 per cent in 2019. In the same period, the proportion of properties in the lowest EPC bands (E, F or G) more than halved, reducing from 27 per cent to 12 per cent.”

Source: Scottish House Condition Survey: 2019 Key Findings, December 1 2020 (here).