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Housing Energy Efficiency

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:18 pm on 30th March 2000.

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Photo of Frank McAveety Frank McAveety Labour 12:18 pm, 30th March 2000

I would like to reiterate something that I said earlier. The facts speak for themselves—taking the figures that we inherited in 1997 as a base, there has since been an increase of 40 per cent in the figures on the line for housing expenditure. We have doubled the amount of money that has been spent on the warm deal, although we recognise that the warm deal is but one part of the solution to the critical issue of fuel poverty. We are committed to the new housing partnerships and to levering in new money over the next five to 10 years through the community ownership strategy, a strategy that seems to be opposed by many who have spoken today. There are many measures that can tackle fuel poverty.

We are also committed to tackling problems around household income. A whole raft of measures has been adopted by the United Kingdom Government to try to improve the general level of income of people in the poorest households. Figures relating to that are key to the debate on fuel poverty. During the earlier debate on the Scottish service tax, we heard about Balmoral Castle, which is probably not very energy-efficient accommodation. However, the individual in that castle could probably well afford to pay its heating bills. The income of people who live in particular houses is relevant.

I want to engage in the debate with political parties, local representatives and pressure groups, and I want to talk about the scale of the challenge that faces us after 100 years of housing policies that have left us with housing much of which is no longer fit for habitation or suitable for future needs. We require a radical step change, and the new housing partnerships and stock transfer proposals should be considered in their totality.

I will try my best to respond to the points that have been raised. We have set targets for what we aim to do under the warm deal. Our target of 100,000 grants aims to ensure over the next four years that people receive the benefit of the warm deal. That is substantially more than can be targeted in the system in England.