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Fix our Homes - Getting our homes fit for the future

Refurbishment - making our homes more energy efficient - presents a huge and 'shovel' ready opportunity for Scotland to tackle fuel poverty as well as the health impacts related to poor housing conditions, whilst taking head on the combined threats of climate change and the economic crises resulting from the global pandemic and Brexit.

Several branches of Living Rent are taking this challenge head on: asking for the total refurbishment of their blocks, the changing of drafty windows and the implementation of district heating schemes. This is also a key challenge of private sector homes and as Scotland prepares to host COP 26, members throughout Scotland are organising to get the government to commit to ambitious refurbishment targets, in order to deliver the homes Scotland needs.

We know that Scottish homes are poorly insulated and/or do poorly on energy efficiency. This is the experience of our members and this is what official numbers confirm.

Overall, 49% of the Scottish housing stock is at EPC D standard or below.

  • In the private rented sector, 57% of housing scores an EPC D standard or below. Yet, the Scottish Government has suspended its plans to require private landlords to improve the energy efficiency of their property until further notice. This leaves tenants with high energy bills and housing conditions which may damage their health, and represents a huge missed opportunity in terms of tackling climate change and encouraging the types of jobs our economy needs now.
  • In the social sector, 45% of the homes score an EPC rating of D or below according to the Scottish Housing regulator 2019 figures. Whilst this represents a moderate improvement from the previous situation, this is still  leaving many tenants in inadequate housing and with high fuel bills.

Such poor standards matter because of the fuel poverty they generate but also because of the missed opportunity to tackle climate change they represent.

Indeed, 24.6% of households are in fuel poverty, of which the majority (38%) are social tenants. Keeping homes below standard lock tenants into high fuel bills and is a detriment to their health.
The most common reasons why people find their homes difficult to heat relate to poor energy performance of the dwellings: poor heating systems and draughts (14% each) followed by insulation and windows (8% each).

Furthermore, residential heating contributes to 16 to 20% of Scotland’s C02 emissions, with the average Scottish home estimated to produce 6.8 tonnes of C02 per year and thus representing a huge opportunity to reach Scotland's energy targets.

According to recent research, there is potential to create up to 17,000 jobs in energy efficiency across Scotland.

Living Rent believes that there is a need to replace energy provision in homes away from fossil fuels and that this transition could unlock huge potential for tenants, for the Scottish economy and for the environment. We have joined with The Existing Homes Alliance and Friends of the Earth Scotland to call on the Scottish government to put more money for energy efficiency into this year’s budget 2021 in order to secure a “triple win” and improve people’s homes, create jobs and cut climate emissions.

Our Chair, Ellinore Folkesson 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."

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Ahead of COP26 which is happening in Glasgow in November 2021, Living Rent will continue to demand bold action on the part of the Scottish Goverment to go beyond its piece meal approach to refurbishment and put in place the proper measures and means needed to tackle this huge need.

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