Additional £100m energy efficiency spend would bring ‘triple win’ for jobs, health and emissions

Environment, housing and anti-poverty campaigners have called for a £100 million boost to the budget for energy efficiency measures, saying the move could provide up to 17,000 green jobs, help cut climate emissions and improve properties across the country. 

Friends of the Earth Scotland, Living Rent and the Existing Homes Alliance said the Scottish Budget should be increased to £244m for the coming year, up from just £145.6m. 

Currently, one in four households in Scotland lives in fuel poverty, with homes across the nation causing 15% of climate emissions. 

Lori McElroy, chair of the Existing Homes Alliance – which brings together housing, environmental, anti-poverty and energy advice organisations, said: “As it stands, the budget falls well short of what is needed to meet the Scottish Government’s own targets and transform peoples’ homes, tackle fuel poverty, and cut the climate impact of our heating systems.

“Scotland’s successful energy efficiency and fuel poverty programmes are ready to scale up and improve thousands more homes, but they need an urgent cash boost to do so.”

Ellinore Folkesson, chair of Living Rent, said: “Tenants across Scotland are having to choose between eating and turning on the heating, especially now as the pandemic has squeezed people’s income.

“Many are living in cold, damp homes and suffering from health problems as a result.

“Investment in energy efficiency across the sector is sorely needed to improve people’s living conditions, and the Scottish Government must ensure there is support in place to improve rented homes without tenants having to foot the bill.

“This could form the cornerstone of a green recovery and represent a crucial opportunity not to be missed.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland climate and energy campaigner, Caroline Rance, said: “The Scottish Government recently announced they were going to spend £1.6 billion across the entire energy efficiency sector, but that is to be spread over five years, and very little of that new cash actually will be spent in this year’s budget.

“Choosing to invest in warmer homes can create a triple win for jobs, public health and the fight against climate change.

“These are the type of positive transformations we must make towards creating a greener, fairer Scotland as we build back from Covid-19.

“With the right government scheme and an immediate cash boost, up to 17,000 green jobs could be created, many of them quickly and spread right across Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are committed to tackling poor energy efficiency as a driver of fuel poverty which is why we are more than doubling our annual capital investment in heat and energy efficiency over the next five years increasing our investment from £112m in 2019/20 to £398m in 2025/26.

“Our draft Budget for 2021/22 allocates £213.4m capital – an increase of £30m on this year for the first year of our five-year commitment to allocate almost £1.6bn over the next five years to heat and energy efficiency.

“At least £465m capital will be allocated for domestic energy efficiency programmes, Warmer Homes Scotland and the Area Based Schemes, over the five years.

“This investment will help ramp up the capability and capacity of supply chains, creating sustainable jobs, while cutting emissions and tackling fuel poverty.”

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