SWU figures used in cold homes warning to members of the Scottish Parliament

The logos of the Social Workers Union (SWU) Campaign Fund and the Scottish Association of Social Work (SASW) next to a photo of the Scottish Parliament Building

Members of the Scottish Parliament have been urged to put political differences aside to unite in support measures that will help end fuel poverty.

In a letter sent to all MSPs on Monday, politicians have been asked to ensure the new First Minister does not abandon government policies which could help end the cold damp homes crisis.

Figures from research among Social Workers Union (SWU) members has found that 69% of Scottish social workers have seen the people they support living in cold damp homes. 77% reported people they support had turned off their heating last winter.

The research featured on the front page of Monday’s Herald newspaper and was also featured in the Morning Star and on the End Fuel Poverty Coalition’s social media channels.

For over 400,000 Scots, their homes are almost uninhabitable due to the cold and damp

The letter, signed by leading civil society organisations and coordinated by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition and Energy Action Scotland, states that the health complications of this are potentially serious: 

The campaigners have demanded that MSPs from across all parties to unite in support of:

  1. A Heat in Buildings Bill which is ambitious in its vision for improving the energy efficiency and insulation of the nation’s homes and contains a clear fuel poverty duty enshrined in the legislation.
  2. The current Housing Bill that will enhance tenants’ rights and provide financial protections for tenants during the ongoing cost of living crisis.
  3. Additional Government support in future budgets and legislation to help households cope with the cost of living crisis.
  4. Reintroducing the Fuel Insecurity Fund to help at least those most at risk of harm and struggling in energy debt.
  5. The new Pension Age Winter Heating Payment being fundamentally better targeted than the Winter Fuel Payment that it replaces.
  6. A strengthened framework of support for the renewables and offshore wind sectors and the fastest possible “just transition” for the oil and gas sector, as described in the Draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan.

Simon Francis, coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:

“Any further delays to boosting energy efficiency plans, protecting tenants rights and organising financial support for the most vulnerable will hit households hard.

“We need MSPs to come together and unite on a programme that will tackle the long term causes of Scotland’s cold homes crisis and provide emergency support to those most at risk next winter.”

Alongside SWU and the Scottish Association of Social Work (SASW), other groups signing the letter range from the Poverty Alliance and the Disability Poverty Campaign Group to Fathers Network Scotland, the National Pensioners Convention and Parents for Future Scotland. 

Local groups such as Aberdeen Heat & Power, East Kilbride Housing Association, Musselburgh Food Pantry, Stirling District Citizens Advice and Tighean Innse Gall have also backed the letter.

One signatory, Gaynor Allen from Sustaining Musselburgh, which is organising an event to help East Lothian residents find out how to make their homes warmer and less expensive to heat on 1st June, said:

“Everyday we hear more shocking stories of the hardships people are facing due to high energy bills and poorly insulated homes. We need both the UK and Scottish Governments to prioritise the short term and long term solutions to fix people’s cold homes.”

Warm This Winter spokesperson Fiona Waters, added:

“What voters really care about is the cost of living crisis driven by high energy bills that is still putting unbearable pressure on millions of households around the country.

“We need governments in each nation who will prioritise fixing our broken energy system by getting us off expensive oil and gas and onto cheap, homegrown renewables and by properly insulating our leaky housing stock to bring down bills for good.

“Politicians should not lose sight of that or they will pay at the ballot box.”

For full details, visit: https://www.endfuelpoverty.org.uk/msps-must-act-to-help-end-cold-homes-crisis