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Housing body fears UK plans to cut energy saving programme

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Housing body is worried Westminster government plans to cut an energy efficiency scheme that is helping tackle fuel poverty

A leading housing body has voiced concern that funding for a programme to improve energy efficiency in UK homes may be cut back.

It comes as figures reveal more than 58,000 measures to improve energy efficiency were installed in homes across Scotland last year.

We already know of a number of schemes which have been scrapped - David Stewart

Statistics from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Changereveal a higher proportion of houses north of the border benefited from having improved insulation installed or new boilers fitted.

Power companies are required to install the measures to help tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions, with 58,058 delivered in Scotland as part of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO).

The ECO scheme is supported by the Scottish Government's Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS) initiative — which is providing £60m of funding for 2014-15, targeted at households suffering from fuel poverty.

This will pay for further work to improve the energy efficiency of homes to be carried out.

But the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has voiced concerns that the ECO scheme is set to be relaxed.

Ministers in Westminster are currently looking at ways to restructure the scheme, leading to fears funding will be cut.

Energy companies are threatening to pass costs on to customers unless the UK government relaxes their obligation to fund the scheme.

SFHA policy manager David Stewart said: "The SFHA welcomes the positive news that so many energy efficiency measures have been installed in Scotland, funded by ECO and the Scottish Government Home Energy Scotland programme.

"The SFHA is concerned that the proposals to cut ECO — which would see the UK Government relaxing the commitment that at present ensures companies deliver energy efficiency measures to domestic energy users — will stall the positive progress in investment. We already know of a number of schemes which have been scrapped as a result of the proposed changes.”

Deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "Through HEEPS, local council-led, area-based schemes are being supported across the whole of Scotland which will enable local councils to leverage ECO investment.

“In total, the Scottish Government will spend almost a quarter of a billion pounds over a three-year period on fuel poverty and energy efficiency.”