In South Lanarkshire over a third of people live in fuel poverty and it is unacceptable that people cannot afford to keep their homes warm. This figure is not helped by the SNP’s decision to cut energy efficiency in the recent budget.
Tackling fuel poverty will be a high priority for a future Scottish Labour Government and I spent considerable time in the last parliamentary term looking at the issue and ways to address it, in discussion with community groups, Councils and NGOs. Rural fuel poverty is a particular challenge, especially for those living off grid. Biomass and small scale district heating must be better supported. While there can be short term wins, it is crucial that we look at longer term, more lasting goals.
I was delighted to attend a celebration of the installation and running of the new biomass boiler at Wiston Lodge near Biggar. The heart of the well known activity centre is an old, hard to heat house, and it’s heart is certainty many degrees warmer with the new heating system at a lot less for running costs!
The initial investment was a challenge even with grant support. I am determined that there will be better support for off grid alternatives to oil and bottled gas in the future, whether for domestic or commercial premises.
If elected into Government, Scottish Labour will deliver our ground breaking Scottish Warm Homes Bill. This will overhaul the planning and building regulations so that the warm homes agenda is placed right at the start of any building process.
Scots will be able to take advantage of home-grown sustainable heating technologies, creating jobs in these new industries and giving us a realistic chance of meeting our aspirations to be a world leader in tackling climate change.
We will also introduce a charter – similar to the social rented sector – which will drive up standards in the private rented sector and hold landlords accountable for the provision of decent accommodation. I would welcome cross party discussion on this important issue in the next Scottish Parliament.
A warm home should not be considered a ‘nice to have’ – it’s a ‘need to have’ and Scottish Labour want to make this a reality for everyone.