Housing associations have called on the Scottish Government to increase funding to cut fuel poverty and bring down carbon emissions.
Speaking ahead of a debate on fuel poverty in Holyrood today, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) called for increased funding for social landlords and minimum energy efficiency standards to be set for the private housing sector.
Those who spend a disproportionate amount of their income on gas and electricity for heating and cooking are deemed to be in fuel poverty. SFHA said there should be a significant increase in the National Retrofit Programme (NRP), which sees energy efficiency measures such as insulation fitted to older homes.
A recent report by WWF Scotland estimated that there is a significant funding gap between the investment required to meet the targets and the funding available through the NRP, the Energy Company Obligation and other available funds.
SFHA policy manager David Stewart said: "While housing associations and co-operatives now have the most energy efficient homes by tenure in Scotland, many of our members' tenants are on low incomes and therefore are vulnerable to fuel poverty, even when their homes are well-insulated and energy efficient.
"It is therefore vital that housing associations continue to lead on energy efficiency and receive support from the Scottish Government to invest in their existing homes.
"The Scottish Government is developing proposals to set further minimum energy efficiency standards for our members' homes and while we welcome any proposals to increase standards, we are concerned that there may not be sufficient funding to pay for the improvements.
"The federation is calling on the Scottish Government to continue to fund and expand the NRP, and to ring-fence ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) to support retrofit of energy efficiency in social housing, cutting fuel poverty and carbon emissions and creating training opportunities and jobs in poorer communities.
"While minimum standards already exist in the social rented sector, there are currently no minimum energy efficiency standards in the private sector. The SFHA, therefore, believes that a system of regulation, with minimum standards set for houses in all sectors, must go hand in hand with a well-funded NRP if Scotland is to address fuel poverty and meet the carbon emission targets set in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act in 2009.
"We believe that the targets to be set should be agreed by 2014, with the first date for targets to be met being 2016."