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No real change in fuel poverty in 2014

Published: 15 Dec 2015 09:30
Part of:
Housing

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

In 2014 the level of fuel poverty remained similar to the previous year: 34.9% or around 845,000 households were fuel poor and 9.5% were living in extreme fuel poverty. This compares to revised estimates of 35.8% or 860,000 fuel poor households in 2013, with 9.8% living in extreme fuel poverty[1].

Fuel Poverty 2014

In this period, average fuel prices increased by 3.5%. The impact of this increase on fuel poverty was mitigated by a 2.7% nominal increase in average net household income, improvements in the overall energy efficiency of the housing stock and policy schemes delivering fuel bill rebates[2].

Statistics on fuel poverty, energy efficiency, the condition of housing, the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) and other key descriptors of the occupied housing stock in Scotland have been released today by Scotland's Chief Statistician. This publication provides the first release of information from the Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS) for the year January to December 2014. It includes a Methodology Report which gives details of the methodological improvement in determining the cost of the fuel requirement which underpins the fuel poverty statistics.

The results from the survey show that the long term trend of improving energy efficiency of the housing stock continues:

  • Two out of five Scottish dwellings are now in EPC Band C or better, an increase of over 70% since 2010 and 11% in the last year.

Fuel Poverty 2014

  • Half of all Scottish dwellings are now rated 67 or higher. This compares to a rating of 62 in 2010 and 66 in 2013 for the average Scottish dwelling.
  • Under the new SAP 2012 methodology, just over a third of dwellings (35%) have an energy efficiency rating of C or better and half of all dwellings are rated 65 or better
  • The share of homes with lofts insulated to 100 mm or more remained unchanged between 2013 and 2014 at 91%. Lofts insulated to 300 mm or more increased by 3 percentage points to reach 27%.
  • Levels of cavity wall insulation have risen to reach 71% of all cavity wall dwellings, increasing by 2 percentage points since 2013.
  • The share of insulated solid wall dwellings was up by 3 percentage points, at 14% compared to 11% in 2013.

The impact of fuel price increases between 2013 and 2014 on fuel poverty were offset by rising household incomes, improving energy efficiency and the impact of fuel bill rebates.

  • In 2014, for the first time SHCS estimates of fuel poverty include the contribution of Warm Home Discount (WHD) which has been in operation since 2011[3]. A new method for calculating the cost of the fuel requirement has also been adopted for 2013 and 2014. Together these changes account for around 3.3 percentage points revision in the fuel poverty estimate for 2013.
  • Over half (55%) of fuel poor households have incomes above the poverty threshold, defined as £288 per week for a couple without children.
  • Fuel poor households are more likely to report difficulties staying warm in winter: 30% of them say that their heating keeps them warm in winter only 'sometimes' (21%) or 'never' (9%) compared to 19% (15% and 4% respectively) of households who are not fuel poor.
  • Fuel poor households are more likely to report affordability problems: 13% of them say that they cannot afford to heat their home, compared to 5% among other households.
  • The extent to which home energy use is monitored by householders remains unchanged with 54% stating they monitor their energy use "very" or "fairly closely" and 7% owning an energy monitoring device. Fuel poor households are no more likely to monitor their energy use or own an energy monitoring device

Housing quality indicators show some improvement

  • The level of any disrepair to critical elements fell by around 4 percentage points to 53% in 2014. Urgent disrepair to critical elements also fell by 4 percentage points to 28%.
  • Rates of urgent (32%) or extensive (7%) disrepair, damp (3%) and condensation (9%) remain unchanged since 2013.
  • Compliance with the tolerable standard in 2014 increased in the social sector where 1% of dwellings were below tolerable standard, a reduction of 2 percentage points since 2013. In the housing stock as a whole 2% of all dwellings fell below the tolerable standard in 2014.
  • The proportion of social housing dwellings which do not meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS)[4] in 2014 was 45% which is similar to the previous year (43%).
  • In the majority of cases where dwellings did not meet the SHQS, this was due to a single criterion. Single criterion failures accounted for around 75% of all failures in 2014, similarly to the previous year.
  • SHCS surveyors may not always be able to identify the presence of cavity wall insulation. To illustrate the maximum impact that this could have, the SHQS failure rate in the social sector would be 34% if it is assumed that all social dwellings have insulated cavity walls where this is technically feasible.
  • Overcrowding levels in Scotland remain unchanged: 3% of all households (74,000) were overcrowded under the Bedroom Standard in 2014.



[1] As this is based on a sample, the difference between 2013 and 2014 fuel poverty levels is not large enough to indicate genuine change.


[2] The Government Electricity Rebate (GER) delivering £12 rebate to electricity customers, and the Warm Home Discount (WHD) scheme with £5 higher rebate value (to reach £140) and 19% more core and broader group beneficiaries in 2014-15.

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/warm-home-discount-annual-report-scheme-year-4

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/environmental-programmes/social-programmes/government-electricity-rebate-ger


[3] The Warm Home Discount scheme provides fuel bill rebates and other support for vulnerable consumers. In 2014-15 it delivered £140 rebates to nearly 2.2 million consumers across GB. https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/warm-home-discount-annual-report-scheme-year-4

[4] http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Built-Environment/Housing/16342/shqs


Notes to editors

The full statistical publication can be accessed at: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/12/8460

The Scottish House Condition Survey is a sample survey, hence all figures are subject to a degree of uncertainty due to sampling variability. It is a two-part survey combining both an interview with occupants and a physical inspection of dwellings. The sample size in 2014 was 2,682 dwellings where both an interview and a physical survey were conducted. This is the third year that results from the integrated surveys are reported.

The report includes improvements to the method for determining the cost of the energy required to maintain an appropriate standard of heating and other energy use which underpins the fuel poverty estimates. The key elements of the improvement are:

• allowing for the bill rebate received under the Warm Home Discount (WHD) scheme;

• a move away from using UK average prices to prices charged for domestic fuels in Scotland, or regions of Scotland, where possible;

• using annual averages instead of point-in-time information on prices, where possible;

• using a weighted average of 3 different payment methods, standard credit, direct debit and pre-payment, instead of standard credit rates alone for metered fuels;

• costing separately three different types of wood fuel and other more minor adjustments.

Together these changes lead to a small reduction in the cost of the energy requirement and therefore the rate of fuel poverty. Details on the nature of the changes and their impact are provided in the accompanying Methodology Notes 2014 publication which is available at

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/SHCS/Downloads/Methodology2014

The changes to the fuel cost methodology aim to improve the accuracy with which the cost of fuel used in estimating the level of fuel poverty reflects the experience of Scottish households.

The method for assessing energy performance, BREDEM 2012, which underpins statistics on fuel poverty, carbon emissions and energy efficiency has also been updated for 2014 to version 1.1 which was published in January 2015. This has resulted in a 2% increase in modelled energy consumption and a corresponding increase in the estimated levels of carbon emissions and fuel poverty. Because of this update statistics on carbon emissions and fuel poverty between 2013 and 2014 are not fully comparable.

Local Authority tables giving breakdowns of key SHCS measures will be published in January 2016. Local Authority estimates use combined data over the three year survey period (2012-2014), in order to obtain suitable sample sizes.

Statistics from the SHCS are used for a variety of purposes including:

  • To monitor changes in the condition of the Scottish housing stock.
  • To monitor commitments to eradicate fuel poverty as far as possible by 2016 as set out in the Scottish Fuel Poverty Statement 2002, and to provide evidence of types of households vulnerable to fuel poverty.
  • To monitor commitments for all social sector landlords to ensure that all of their dwellings pass the Scottish Housing Quality Standard by 2015.
  • To monitor commitments to improve the energy efficiency of the Scottish housing stock to contribute to the reduction of emissions as set out in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act, 2009.
  • To monitor progress on Housing and Regeneration Outcome Indicators.
  • To support policy development on energy efficiency standards in the social sector (EESSH) and the private sector (REEPS); help target programmes such as Home Energy Efficiency Programmes Scotland (HEEPS) and ECO on the most vulnerable households.

Further information on Housing and Regeneration statistics within Scotland can be accessed at:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/topics/statistics/browse/Housing-Regeneration

National statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff – more information on the standards of National statistics in Scotland can be accessed at:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/About