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Government will fail to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016 target

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Official government statistics show progress on fuel poverty has stalled

Fuel poverty levels have stalled in Scotland with hopes now all but dead of solving the problem by next year’s target date.

Figures published by the Scottish Government for 2014 show the level of fuel poverty remained similar to the previous year: 34.9% or around 845,000 households were fuel poor and 9.5% were living in extreme fuel poverty.

It means the Scottish Government has no hope of reaching targets set in 2001 which promised to end fuel poverty in Scotland by 2016.

Despite energy prices falling and support schemes such as the Warm Home Discount being in place, it still remains a key issue for those on low income with around one in four of the population classified as living in fuel poverty.

The budget is an opportunity to do more about reducing levels of fuel poverty in Scotland - Norman Kerr

Norman Kerr, director of Energy Action Scotland, said: “There is still a significant fuel poverty problem in Scotland that needs more funding to solve it than is currently available.

“Tomorrow’s (Wednesday's) Scottish Government budget is an opportunity to do more about reducing levels of fuel poverty in Scotland.

“Without it, the desperate situation of hundreds of thousands of households living in cold, damp homes will continue.”

Energy Action Scotland has already urged the Scottish Government to open discussions now on resetting the target to end fuel poverty, as it is clear the current target of November 2016 can no longer be met.

The charity wants the Scottish Government to produce a fuel poverty strategy and action plan with costs and timelines.

Housing minister Margaret Burgess said she was committed to taking on the problem, with tackling inequality at the heart of government's policy agenda.

"We have allocated over £500 million since 2009 on a raft of fuel poverty measures and this year a record £119m is being made available for this," she told Energy Action Scotland's recent conference.

"The new Warmer Homes Scotland scheme will deliver the best possible help to thousands of people who are blighted by fuel poverty."