FOI reference: FOI/17/01629
Date received: 13 July 2017
Date responded: 2 August 2017
"The underspend on the fuel poverty budget line for 2016-17. On the 22nd June, in a Ministerial Statement, on the Provisional Outturn 2016-17, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution (Derek Mackay) reported a £191 million underspend, of which £85 million was from the Communities Budget. On questioning from Kezia Dugdale (Lothian) (Labour) he said "Some of it is in demand-areas such as area-based schemes for which heat and home energy efficiency applications, which we want to encourage, or the help for homes equity loan scheme and other loan schemes that have been made available but for which, on occasion, we have struggled to attract applicants".
"It is the amount of underspend in the area-based schemes, and the help for homes equity loan scheme – and the fuel poverty budget lines as a whole, that I'm interested in".
The answer to your question is the 2016-17 figures announced on 22 June are currently subject to the final audit process and as such remain provisional at this stage. Budget underspends which arose in the programmes in question were used to offset budget pressures elsewhere in the Scottish Government.
The provisional budget outturn for 2016/17 notes a variance of £3M in the HEEPS: Area Based Schemes, covering standard ABS projects and phase 1 of the SEEP Pilots. The nature of these schemes involves technically difficult measures being installed on properties which can lead to delays in completion and invoicing. Officials are in regular contact with local authority counterparts seeking updates and reassurance on forecast spend. Despite repeated reassurances during the year, some councils declared an underspend very late in the financial year, by which time it was too late to reallocate budget to other councils.
The final 2016/17 Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency budget was £119m. An increase of £16m on the draft budget. This reflects additional funding allocated in year to support delivery of our Warmer Homes Scotland scheme and to assist social landlords in meeting the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing.
The provisional outturn also showed a variance of £10m in the Help for Homes equity loans scheme. Due to the legal and financial complexities involved in this scheme, procuring the managing agent took longer than expected and the scheme was launched in January 2017, rather than spring 2016. A number of expressions of interest have been received, these arrived too late to be processed in time for spend in 2016-17, but are being taken forward and, subject to the eligibility being met, will be processed in 2017-18.
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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House