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Housing Energy Efficiency

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:12 am on 30th March 2000.

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Photo of Frank McAveety Frank McAveety Labour 11:12 am, 30th March 2000

I said that the various strategies that we are engaged in complement each other. The warm deal is part of that. Within the warm deal, we identify three major reasons for fuel poverty: poor energy efficiency, low household income and fuel prices. The general condition of Scottish housing stock could be added to those reasons.

A number of measures that go over and above the warm deal tackle the problem. That is why Wendy Alexander spent three hours yesterday explaining to the Social Inclusion, Housing and Voluntary Sector Committee the Executive's aspirations for the injection of new money from private investment into our housing stock, above and beyond the new housing partnership investment. Without that step change in investment, many of the objectives that people in Scotland are concerned about will not be delivered.

Energy Action Scotland's report, "Scottish Fuel Poverty Update 2000", showed the challenge that we face. I am about to quote from it because reference has been made to a number of pressure groups. Pressure groups will ask for much more than the Government can sometimes deliver, but the report says that

"some dwellings cannot be made energy efficient, because of their construction, without the expenditure of unrealistic sums of money."

We want to understand how that interacts with wider Government initiatives to tackle household income. Without dwelling on the recent past, a number of the major changes to benefits, including the working families tax credit, are geared towards tackling the issues surrounding poverty households in Scotland and in the UK as a whole.

Last week, several commentators indicated that Mr Brown's budget was clearly targeted to address the needs of poor families. The commitment to the winter fuel allowance is 15 times the figure left to us by the previous Conservative Government.

Several major issues were raised by Robin Harper, about how we connect the warm deal.