A bill outlining new measures to tackle fuel poverty will be debated in Parliament today (Wednesday).
Members will be asked to agree to the general principles of the Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill, which has three main aims.
The first to set a target that, by 2040, no more than 5% of Scottish households are in fuel poverty with the second to establish a new definition of fuel poverty that better aligns fuel poverty with relative income poverty.
Third, the Bill ensures that a new, long term Fuel Poverty Strategy be prepared, published and laid before Parliament – a draft of which has already been published.
Kevin Stewart, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning said: “In this day and age, it is unacceptable that any Scottish household should have to choose between having the heating on and cooking their dinner.
“To become a fairer and just society, it is crucial that we make real headway towards ending the scourge of fuel poverty.
“Within this ground breaking legislation, not only are we one of the few countries in the world to define fuel poverty, we are also setting a goal towards eradicating it.
“By changing the definition of fuel poverty so it’s more closely aligned to relative income poverty and taking steps to ensure it works for remote rural and island communities, we are ensuring our support is focussed on those who need it most.
“I am passionate about this Bill and I look forward to working with partners on the development of our final Fuel Poverty Strategy which will also include the views of people with lived experience of fuel poverty.
“I know that the work we are doing around fuel poverty and energy efficiency has and will continue to transform people’s lives – making our homes warmer, greener and more energy efficient.”
In 2015, the government set up two short life, independent bodies to report on fuel poverty - the Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group and the Scottish Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force.
Following on from their reports, an independent, academic panel was tasked with reviewing the definition of fuel poverty and the majority of its recommendations have been incorporated into the definition of fuel poverty in the Bill.
The Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel and Partnership Forum were established as part of a robust new framework for monitoring the progress in tackling fuel poverty and advising the Government.
The government also ran a fuel poverty strategy consultation prior to publishing a draft fuel poverty strategy alongside the Bill.
Stage 1 of the Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill, will be debated this afternoon. The Local Government and Communities Committee has recommended that it should progress to Stage 2.