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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-06552: Alison Johnstone (Lothian)

Scottish Green Party

Date lodged: 25 January 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the Scottish House Condition Survey 2015.

Answered by: Kevin Stewart 2 February 2017

The Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS) is a National Statistics publication for Scotland and includes statistics on fuel poverty, energy efficiency, the condition of housing, the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) and other key descriptors of the occupied housing stock in Scotland.

The 2015 survey indicated that 748,000 households were in fuel poverty in 2015, almost 100,000 fewer than in 2014. Whilst the Scottish Government welcomes this reduction, we know there is much more work to be done. The Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group and the Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force both published reports with collectively over 100 recommendations and we will formally respond to their recommendations in February 2017. Both reports are the first step in the development of our new fuel poverty strategy, including a new overarching fuel poverty target, which we will consult on later this year.

The SHCS results demonstrate that there has been a long term improvement in energy efficiency of Scottish homes. The share of the most energy efficient dwellings (rated C or above) has increased by 74% since 2010. Through Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP), we will build on this success and accelerate improvements across all buildings in Scotland. SEEP will start from 2018. We are committed to investing more than half a billion pounds in energy efficiency and combating fuel poverty through SEEP over the next four years, setting out a clear commitment to develop this programme with substantial annual public funding.

The SHCS found that the level of disrepair in Scottish homes remained unchanged since the previous year. In 2015, 73% of all dwellings had some degree of disrepair. This includes fairly minor and non-urgent disrepairs. The SHCS found that 2% of homes are below the tolerable standard – this is the statutory minimum standard for homes to be fit for human habitation. There is a longer term trend of improvement in homes that fall below tolerable standard and 2015 levels represent a drop of nearly two percentage points since 2012. Minimum standards are required in social and private rented housing and local authorities have a range of powers to enforce work needed on all homes that are below tolerable standard or otherwise substandard, and discretionary powers to provide assistance. The Scottish Government requires local authorities to produce a local housing strategy which must, in particular, set out how they will address houses that do not meet the statutory tolerable standard, and their strategy for providing assistance for improving homes.

The Scottish Government is currently piloting a scheme to provide equity loans to home owners to help carry out essential repairs and energy efficiency improvements.