The Scottish Government will not meet its 2016 target to eradicate fuel poverty, an expert group has confirmed.
The independent group chaired by professor David Sigsworth has concluded the target to wipe out fuel poverty in Scotland “so far as is reasonably practicable” by November will be missed.
It follows figures published in December that revealed almost no change in fuel poverty levels – defined as a household being required to spend more than 10% of its income on all fuel use in order to maintain satisfactory heating.
Almost 35% of households were classed as living in fuel poverty in 2014, compared with revised estimates of 35.8% in 2013.
The group’s final report, due to be published later this year, is expected to recommend a review of the definition of fuel poverty as well as a fresh strategy and targets for tackling the problem.
Responding to an update on the group’s interim findings, housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “This government has allocated over half a billion pounds since 2009 and this year we are making available more than £103 million to tackle fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency.
“This money will be used to help install energy-efficiency measures to thousands of homes across Scotland and build on more than one million measures already delivered to almost one million Scottish households since 2008.
“Our record investment is reflected in the big improvements in the energy efficiency of Scotland’s housing.
“Two out of five homes are now in the top-three ratings for energy efficiency, an increase of 71% since 2010 and 11% in the last year alone.
“While we have welcomed this success, above-inflation energy price increases that are beyond our control have greatly impacted on Scottish households.
“Based on the expert advice we have now received, we must accept that fuel poverty will not be eradicated this year.
“We remain committed to continuing our efforts in this area and continue to work with stakeholders to review the fuel poverty action plan, including the fuel poverty eradication target.”