Cost of Living Crisis (Home Heating)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 27 April 2022.

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Photo of Gillian Mackay Gillian Mackay Green

2. To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to make homes easier to keep warm, in light of the need to tackle the reported cost of living crisis. (S6O-00999)

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

The Scottish Government has allocated more than £1 billion since 2009 to tackling fuel poverty and improving energy efficiency. More than 150,000 fuel-poor households have benefited from our investment.

This year alone, we have committed a further £336 million to help make homes warmer and less expensive to heat, as part of our £1.8 billion commitment over this session of Parliament, which is the most ambitious programme in the United Kingdom. Last October, we published our “Heat in Buildings Strategy”, which sets out our commitment to addressing the dual challenges of reducing carbon emissions and tackling fuel poverty.

Photo of Gillian Mackay Gillian Mackay Green

Does the minister agree that there is a stark contrast between the UK Government’s approach to energy policy, which places all its bets on expanding nuclear power and squeezing out even more oil and gas while neglecting the much quicker and more significant impact that investing in energy efficiency can bring, and that of the Scottish Government, which is seeking to do everything that it can to ease energy costs for hard-pressed households?

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

I agree completely that there is a stark contrast between those two agendas. The issue is not just the different view about whether expanding the fossil fuel industry in the midst of a climate emergency is viable but the UK Government’s extraordinary decision to publish not only a heat in buildings strategy but a UK energy security strategy that does not emphasise energy efficiency and demand reduction. The Scottish Government is committed to placing a high priority on that.

Scottish ministers wrote to the secretary of state on 18 March to set out wider views on energy policy, including the need to accelerate the decarbonisation of electricity, which, in part, supports the decarbonisation of heat and transport; to reform the network charging system; to create new business models for green hydrogen; and to rebalance policy costs to protect consumers.

As the cabinet secretary said in his response to question 1, since March, we have announced wider eligibility criteria for energy efficiency upgrades and the warmer homes Scotland programme, as well as measures to ensure that the maximum number of people benefit from our area-based schemes, including the focus on fabric-first insulation upgrades.

Photo of Brian Whittle Brian Whittle Conservative

The cost of heating homes by using domestic heating oil has risen dramatically in recent months—by even more than that of gas and electricity. Given the prominent use of domestic heating oil in rural communities, does the minister agree that, because of their running costs and carbon footprint, homes that use domestic heating oil should be a priority for support to install low-carbon heating systems? If so, how will the Scottish Government enable that to happen?

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

That is a high priority. I regularly see correspondence from members who are supporting constituents to access the wide range of support through advice and grant and loan schemes that the Scottish Government provides to enable people to increase energy efficiency measures in their homes and switch to zero-emissions heating. I hope that Brian Whittle and other members across the chamber will support their constituents to access that support.