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Publication - Minutes

Fuel Poverty Forum minutes: April 2017

Published: 4 Sep 2017
Part of:
Housing
Date of meeting: 20 Apr 2017
Date of next meeting: 28 Aug 2017
Location: James Watt A, Atlantic Quay, Glasgow

Minutes of the Scottish Fuel Poverty Forum meeting in April 2017.

Attendees and apologies

Present
Alan Ferguson (AF) Chair
Norrie Kerr (NK) Deputy Chair
Alison McKean (AMK) Scottish Power
Christine MacKenzie (CMacK) SSE
John Wood (JW) COSLA
Laura McGadie (LMG) Energy Saving Trust
Lindsey Restrick (LR) SSE
Lisa Glass (LG) Shelter
Peter Kelly (PK) The Poverty Alliance
Stephen Cunningham (SC) SHEEN
Jim Eadie (JE) Age Scotland
Craig Salter (CS) Citizens Advice Scotland
Frank Hemmes (FH) Ofgem
Carol Aitken (CA) Scottish Gas
Sarah Boyack (SB) SFHA
In attendance
Angus Macleod (AMacl) Scottish Government
Ann McKenzie (AMcK) Scottish Government
Adam Krawczyk (AK) Scottish Government
Ganka Mueller (GM) Scottish Government
Valerie Sneddon (VS) Scottish Government
Elsie Matheson (EM) Scottish Government
Apologies
Suzanne Taylor SP Energy Networks
Donna Burnett NHS Health Scotland
Mike Thornton Energy Saving Trust
John Dickie Child Poverty Action Group
Simon O’Loughlin Scottish and Southern Energy Networks
David Stewart SFHA
Phil Mackie Scottish Public Health Network

Items and actions

1. Opening comment from Chair

AF welcomed everyone to the meeting. He noted that Ganka Mueller would be moving to a new post and thanked her for her work and contributions to the Forum over the past 5 years and wished her well in her new post.

2. Apologies and Minutes of last meeting

Apologies - as detailed above

Minutes of meeting held on 15 December 2016

  • Item 9 – SHCS Presentation on published Statistics – Third bullet, final sentence to be deleted. Minute of meeting was approved and revised version will be published on the Scottish Government website.

Matters Arising

  • CMA Workshop – NK thanked AMcK for organising this useful workshop

Outstanding Actions

  • Conflict of Interest Declaration No one had anything to declare

Committee on Fuel Poverty (CFP) Update

The CFP is the advisory body to the UK Government on fuel poverty and AMacl attended its meeting in April. The Committee currently has 5 members and is looking to appoint a sixth. Issues discussed included how to identify fuel poor households, engagement with the health and social care sector, rural and remote rural issues and ECO leverage. The Committee had published an interim report last year. AMacl had updated the Committee on the Scottish fuel poverty landscape. The Committee is keen to meet the Forum Chair and Deputy Chair.

Action: AMacl to circulate link to CFP interim report.

3. Update on 2 Fuel Poverty Reports

Publication of response

  • AF reminded members of the key messages in the Ministerial foreword.
  • AMacl provided a brief overview of the Scottish Government’s response to the 2 reports and highlighted that work on a large proportion of the 109 recommendations is either already underway or will be considered during the development of SEEP. A proportion of the recommendations are for stakeholders or other organisations to take forward.
  • JW asked who would oversee the implementation of the recommendations. AMcK explained that the Scottish Government will report back to the Forum regularly on progress and the Forum will be expected to hold Government to account over implementation of the recommendations.

Review of the definition of fuel poverty

  • AMacl gave an update on the review of the fuel poverty definition, being conducted by an independent panel of academics. The panel was making good progress and was due to report in the summer.
  • The intention was to hold a workshop with members of the Forum and others to discuss the panel’s initial findings at the end of June. The Chair and Deputy Chair would review the list of attendees to ensure that relevant interests were covered.
  • PK asked about engagement with individuals who were experiencing fuel poverty. As the panel has a tight delivery timescale this probably won’t be possible, though PK advised that, if required, it may be possible to convene a group by end of July. Forum members highlighted that obtaining the views of different stakeholders was important for the future fuel poverty strategy.
  • CS advised that CAS was assembling a group of individuals experiencing fuel poverty with the potential for the group to be available for the June workshop. CAS was happy to circulate a paper in advance of the workshop and invite Forum members to the scoping event it hopes to hold.

Action: CS – To pass details to EM on scoping event for circulation.

Timeline – Review of definition/New Strategy/Warm Homes Bill (WHB)

A brief overview of the timeline was provided. AF advised that the future shape of the Forum would determine input into the WHB which has tight delivery timescales.

Issues discussed.

  • AK highlighted that there was an on-going consultation on the content of the Scottish House Condition Survey and there would be scope to review the SHCS questions to reflect any changes to the definition.
  • SC suggested that, rather than set a new fuel poverty target, consideration could be given to sub definitions with the overall aim to find and target those fuel poor most in need. Data gathering would be crucial.
  • NK advised that Queen’s Cross HA has undertaken in-depth analysis into their properties and household incomes and vulnerability. This produced good data but the challenge is how to capture this. AF added that sometimes RSLs will only have information on the property – not the resident and there is a disconnect with the information that is available and can be accessed.

HES Homecare SEEP Pilot

  • AMcK provided a brief overview of HES Homecare and advised that the pilot areas will be Dumfries and Galloway and Moray. This pilot is part of the pathfinder projects to test new approaches as part of SEEP and will be evaluated. The evaluation will feed into the development of the advice and support provision required to effectively deliver SEEP.

Future of the Forum – Options paper circulated in advance

  • AF gave an overview of paper and set out the 3 options. He highlighted the Cabinet Secretary’s foreword in the response to the 2 fuel poverty reports that said the status quo was not an option for tackling fuel poverty. The Forum had a role in the governance of the implementation of the recommendations made in the 2 fuel poverty reports and in driving the new fuel poverty strategy and it may need to change to do this robustly.

Issues discussed

  • LG - Agreed there is a requirement for change and was supportive of Option 3. This would be subject to the opportunity for variation of Forum members depending on their policy expertise to respond to consultations, policy development etc. This would provide the Forum with a sharper focus.
  • CA - It was difficult to take a decision on the future role of the Forum when members were unclear on their current role and responsibilities and suggested that the Forum required a set of objectives and the existing terms of remit should be reviewed. Consideration could then be given to the future role of the Forum.
  • AF - The SWG recommended the Forum needs to change and objectives for the Forum would be reviewed once the new format was agreed.
  • NK - Members should consider the Ministerial steer about more of the same not being an option. The group could build on Option 3 and flesh out the role to develop the Forum to have a wider, more strategic role.
  • JW - Option 3 most sensible, current membership too big, needs to hold government to account. Fuel poverty currently a high level agenda, need to avoid alienating stakeholders, but they need to add value.
  • JE - Supportive of a flexible group with replacements that were responsible for holding government to account. They would need to be clear on their role to ensure that vulnerable fuel poor were recognised. There would be some difficult conversations and robust monitoring mechanisms needed.
  • SC –Focus should be on what Forum does, not who sits on it. There should be an action plan with the minutes of the meeting that could be monitored.
  • NK – The Forum had become so large it is difficult to hold government to account. Need to consider how the Forum can undertake some of the more strategic functions.
  • SB – Observed that a number of members were not present, which suggested there may be an issue with the purpose of the Forum. It was important that recommendations be monitored and stakeholders’ views recognised by Ministers. The SFHA was supportive of a smaller more focused Forum with robust monitoring of recommendations.
  • PK – May see more organisations engaging with the Forum due to forthcoming work on the fuel poverty target, strategy and Warm Homes Bill. A clearer remit was required with a focus on holding government to account. The challenge and the strength of the Forum is the diversity of membership. There should be a transitional period whilst the fuel poverty strategy is developed so members could engage when they have something to say and keep up to speed with developments. More thinking was needed on the future role of the Forum.
  • FH – LG’s suggestion to pull in expertise when required had merit. The Forum could have a core group with others attending as required. Ofgem would be happy to continue in an advisory role.
  • LR – Holding just one larger meeting a year may mean issues will be overlooked.
  • SB – A timeline for the next 4 years would help to identify the key tasks and inform the role and remit of a revised Forum.
  • AF – Highlighted that the last published Forum report was not widely recognised and members did not meet with Ministers. Going forward the Forum could have a role in shaping the Warm Homes Bill.
  • AF - A smaller Forum would need clear objectives to ensure the membership and frequency of meetings was correct. A more detailed paper would be provided for the August Forum meeting. Members should email the Chair directly with any further ideas.

Action – Scottish Government to map out timeline for next 4 years and redraft options paper in light of the discussion.

4. Programme Updates

HEEPS: ABS, Warmer Homes Scotland, ECO – AMacl highlighted the following:

  • HEEPS: ABS – 2015/16 now formally closed and 2016/17 accruals being finalised. Applications for 2017/18 funding were being assessed and Grant Offer Letters would be issued in May.
  • HEEPS: Loans – Approx. £4.5 million of loans issued to RSLs to assist in meeting EESSH and £4 million of funding to households to improve energy efficiency.
  • Warmer Homes Scotland – Customer satisfaction remained high and a high volume referrals (over 8900) had resulted in higher spend than the initial £19 million budget. 2016/17 spend to end March: circa £25 million. There had already had to be minor changes to eligibility and the criteria would need to be further reviewed to manage demand within the available budget for future years. The Forum would be kept informed.

Issues Raised

  • 27 bids had been received for SEEP pilot funding, 19 of which would progress to the next stage either wholly or in part. AF asked for the Forum to receive more information on some of the more innovative SEEP pilot projects.
  • NK - Suggested that a glossary of terminology would be useful to explain some of the terms in the paper and, for example, what was the difference between a heating measure and an ancillary measure.
  • NK – Asked for further details on the changes to eligibility criteria. AMacl said that the maximum property size had been restricted and that there would be restrictions to what would be funded in the private rented sector as the Repairing Standard required landlords to fix broken heating systems.
  • LG – Asked if the Scottish Government retained a list of callers affected by the changes already made to eligibility criteria in case the situation changed. LMcG confirmed that HES would have a list of callers affected.
  • LG – asked for details of the total number of households assisted through the different funding schemes. AMcl explained that this is done for WHS, but it can be more difficult for the other schemes as this involves a variety and blend of funding, including ECO.
  • SB – SFHA members are focusing on meeting the 35,000 affordable homes target so this is the ideal time to encourage the installation of new district heating systems networks. AMacl advised that SEEP and HEEPS were for retrofit rather than new build, and there is funding, such as the District Heating Loan Fund and the Renewable Heat Incentive, available for district heating.

Action

  • SG to provide update paper to Forum on examples of good SEEP Pilot bids, in particular those that could be shared with other local authorities.
  • SG to include a glossary with future programme updates
  • SG to look to provide additional data on households helped through HEEPS.

5. Consultations

SEEP

  • AMacl provided a brief overview of the SEEP consultation which was launched in January and encouraged Forum members to respond before the deadline of 30 May.
  • External stakeholder consultation events would be held w/c 24 April.

Action - AMacl to establish if all Forum members were sent invites.

REEPS

  • VS gave an overview of the REEPS consultation launched on 7 April.

Issues raised

  • SC – SHEEN will be responding to both consultations, with a focus on fuel poverty as the central focus for both.
  • AF – Questioned whether the REEPS cost cap of £5000 to bring a property to the minimum standard was too low? SC advised this had been discussed by the REEPS technical group. AK added that modelling suggested there was only a small percentage of properties (0.7% - 200 properties) that could not be upgraded to Band E for £5000.
  • LG – Questioned whether a £1000 maximum fine for non-compliance was sufficiently high.
  • SB – Highlighted an issue with funding for multi-tenure blocks. VS said that Part 2 of the consultation took forward part of the work of the Common Housing Standard Forum, which had also considered mixed tenure issues, and that this would be taken forward in due course.
  • AF – Asked when the Scottish Government intended to provide feedback on consultation responses. AMacl added that there should be feedback available for the August Forum meeting and that the responses would also be published.

6. AOB – None

TOPIC ACTION RESPONSIBILITY
CFP Update Circulate link to interim report Angus Macleod
CAS Scoping Event Pass scoping event details to EM to circulate to members Craig Salter
S Govt activity Map out activity timeline for next 4 years Scottish Government
Future of the Forum Redraft Forum options paper in light of discussions Scottish Government
HEEPS Programme Updates · Provide update paper to Forum on examples of good SEEP Pilot bids, in particular those that could be shared with other local authorities. · Arrange for a glossary to accompany future programme updates · S Govt to look to provide additional data on households helped through HEEPS. Scottish Government
SEEP Consultation Work shops Establish if FPF members invited – Invite circulated 25 April
Published:
4 Sep 2017
Fuel Poverty Forum minutes: April 2017