Warmer Homes Scotland Scheme

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 29 September 2022.

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Photo of Mark Griffin Mark Griffin Labour

8. To ask the Scottish Government how many households it has written to promoting the warmer homes Scotland scheme since the start of the cost of living crisis. (S6O-01403)

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

Households can obtain free help and advice through various routes, including via direct mail to households living in or at risk of fuel poverty. For example, local authorities write directly to property owners in areas that are targeted by our area-based schemes. They might also refer them to Home Energy Scotland and to our warmer homes Scotland service. We do not keep a central record of those activities.

Yesterday, we launched our one-stop cost of living website, which provides a wide range of advice, including schemes to tackle fuel poverty.

Photo of Mark Griffin Mark Griffin Labour

I draw members’ attention to my entry in the register of members’ interests, which states that I am the owner of a rental property in North Lanarkshire.

In recent parliamentary answers, the minister has advised that Home Energy Scotland is meeting its targets to speak with low income, potentially fuel-poor clients, with 42,000 having been offered support in the past financial year. However, the number of installations as a result of those interactions is just 5,300.

The Government has targets for interactions and advice calls, but what would the targets be for the number of installations under the new contract? Does the new contract allow for enhanced promotion of the scheme, with local delivery teams on the ground able to make referrals directly?

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

I am happy to engage with members from all parties on the development of the new contract but, as things stand, warmer homes Scotland, which is, of course, a demand-led scheme, provided support to more than 5,300 households in 2021-22, despite being impacted by the Covid pandemic. That is among the highest figures since the scheme began.

We are leading the way in these islands in supporting households in fuel poverty. In fact, the chairman of the British Energy Efficiency Federation, Andrew Warren, recently wrote:

“My advice to Whitehall is simple. Whether you take the high road or you take the low road, you had best be copying Scotland’s initiatives.”

We will continue to develop and seek to go further, but we are making excellent progress in supporting people with energy during these difficult times.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I have three requests from members to ask supplementary questions. I would like to take all three, so I make an appeal for succinct questions and answers.

Photo of Willie Rennie Willie Rennie Liberal Democrat

Over the past five years, home insulation schemes have been completed in fewer than 1,000 projects in my North East Fife constituency. That is 1,000 out of 40,000 homes. We are in the middle of a climate emergency and now a cost of living crisis. That level of support is pathetic. How will the Government get more homes insulated quickly?

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

I am sorry that Mr Rennie chooses to denigrate the work not only of Government but of our partner agencies, whose support to households in 2021-22, as I said, involved the highest numbers since warmer homes Scotland began. There is no need for that kind of language about the work that people are doing throughout this country to support people in the cost of living crisis, including with the cost of energy.

There is a huge amount more to do not only in the current context but throughout this decade to retrofit our homes for energy efficiency and zero emissions heating. I hope that, in the future, we will see political parties across the chamber joining us in ensuring that we pursue that as ambitiously as we can.

Photo of Stephanie Callaghan Stephanie Callaghan Scottish National Party

Has the Scottish Government assessed how many households are excluded from receiving external wall insulation through the warmer homes Scotland scheme due to living in non-traditional, steel-framed houses? What financial support might be available to those who do not qualify for that essential work but would like to improve the insulation of their homes to save energy?

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

Warmer homes Scotland provides a bespoke package of energy efficiency and heating improvements that are suitable for each specific property. Some £55 million has been allocated in 2022-23. That is the highest-ever figure. More than 70,000 fuel-poor households have benefited from external wall insulation as part of area-based schemes. That includes properties with non-standard construction and steel frames. We have allocated £64 million to local councils for those schemes to support the improvement of hard-to-treat properties.

I encourage everybody—whatever kind of property they live in—to contact Home Energy Scotland to explore the support that is available to them.

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

I refer members to my entry in the register of members’ interests.

There are 530-plus social houses in Wick that require to be upgraded to energy performance certificate C. I estimate that that could cost more than £20 million. If we extrapolate that across the Highlands, the cost of getting social housing up to EPC C could be much more than £100 million. Will the Government help those houses to get up to EPC C?

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

We work closely with the social housing sector to understand the scale of the challenge that confronts it and to support it through that. We will continue to do that in relation to energy efficiency and the critically important role that registered social landlords can have in developing heat networks, which are relevant in rural and urban settings. Just today, we launched the heat networks support unit, which will be an excellent support for the development of local projects in the years to come.