- The Scottish Government has requested initial advice from the Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel on actions which can be taken in response to escalating energy prices and the detrimental effect these are having on those suffering fuel poverty. This advice offers a preliminary response with an emphasis on immediate, short-term actions, along with medium-term recommendations.
- The Panel is newly formed but has engaged widely across the third sector (advice agencies and housing associations) and energy sector (retail and network energy companies, trade associations, Ofgem and the Ombudsman). It has also engaged with those with lived experience of fuel poverty. This initial advice is informed by this engagement as well as the Panel’s own knowledge, experience and understanding.
- The recommendations, set out below, are organised thematically.
Theme 1: Optimise Advice Agencies’ delivery to mitigate the impact of rising energy prices, and other cost of living challenges, on households. (Recs: 1-4). Advice agencies are a crucial part of frontline support to those in fuel poverty. Action is needed, both tactical and strategic, to enable them to tailor services according to local needs and to be supported in this by both government and commercial companies.
Theme 2: Protect those suffering fuel poverty, and those at risk of entering fuel poverty, from its long-term effects (Recs 5-8). There are opportunities to:
- leverage good practice (e.g. operation of the Fuel Insecurity Fund) to make access and distribution of funding simpler to households who need urgent support
- adopt a cross-sector approach to fuel poverty mitigation, such as the Warm Homes Prescription Model, laying the ground for more joined up and effective working
- step up funding for household energy efficiency and regulation, alongside a more nuanced understanding of fuel poverty effects on those who have enhanced needs, self-ration or self-disconnect.
Theme 3: Continue to advocate for Government funding and policy change to mitigate the escalating disparity between incomes and energy prices (Recs 9 & 10). The Scottish Government should continue to urge the UK Government to uses its powers to support the financially vulnerable, as well as ensuring that it uses its own powers to optimum effect. It should also press the UK Government to reform the energy market, using its influence, to help secure freedom from future fuel poverty brought about by high energy prices. The Scottish Government should also consider what more it can do to simplify the funding landscape; support joined-up working; regulate, and promote research, in order to respond to immediate vulnerability and secure more energy efficient homes for the future.
Theme 4: Monitor and evaluate the Fuel Poverty Strategy (Rec 11). The Scottish Government should develop a monitoring and evaluation framework for the Fuel Poverty strategy and undertake renewed estimates of levels of fuel poverty.