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Fuel Poverty Bill passes stage 1

21 February 2019

The bill setting targets for tackling fuel poverty passed stage 1 in the Scottish Parliament yesterday.

MSPs backed the general principles of the Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill without a vote, although opposition members claimed the bill would need to be strengthened to be effective.

The bill sets a target that, by 2040, no more than 5% of Scottish households are in fuel poverty, and sets out a new definition of fuel poverty that ministers claim better aligns fuel poverty with relative income poverty. It also requires that a new, long term fuel poverty strategy, a draft of which has already been published, be prepared, published and laid before Parliament.

During the debate the bill was described as lacking in ambition, and criticised for not containing interim targets to underpin its objectives, as well as showing a lack of focus on rural and island areas. Minister Kevin Stewart claimed in response that the bill did not stand alone but was "part of a suite of legislation and regulation". This included the carbon reduction bill, which would be introduced to the Parliament shortly, and with the bill to be introduced on district and local heating strategies. But primary legislation was not always the answer, and delivery was also a matter for the energy-efficient Scotland programme, which could be adapted as matters progressed. He also referred to energy performance certificate ratings, which were under review. 

Click here to view the report of the debate.

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