Funding to tackle Cumbernauld fuel poverty

Written by Scott Campbell, Cumbernauld Media's Senior Reporter.

Published at 16:54 on 23 May 2015

North Lanarkshire Council    Scottish Government

The funding will be given to households. Picture: Scott Campbell for Cumbernauld Media.

NORTH Lanarkshire Council has confirmed today (23rd May) that homeowners in Cumbernauld will benefit from cheaper energy bills and warmer homes after the Scottish Government granted the authority more funding to improve the energy efficiency of houses.

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess announced last month that funding totalling £65million will be handed to local authorities throughout Scotland in the next year to combat fuel poverty.

On a visit to meet residents of Irvine Housing Association last month, Ms Burgess announced that £103million had been set aside by the Scottish Government to battle fuel poverty.

As part of the funding, £14million included the creation of a new loans scheme which will offer homeowners interest-free loans of up to £10,000 for energy efficiency measures, while £65million was set aside for the Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland: Area Based Schemes programme.

In announcing the funding boost, the Housing Minister confirmed that the Scottish Government were to launch the next phase of its Cashback scheme which will see £10 million made available to homeowners and private tenants, and £5 million for social landlords.

Through the scheme private sector households will be able to claim up to £5,800 for installations recommended by an energy advice report, and households in remote areas will be entitled to greater amounts to cover the increased costs they face.

In 2014/15 1,700 social landlord tenants benefited from the Cashback scheme while it delivered 4,000 energy efficiency measures to 3,400 households in the private sector.

While on a visit to meet with Irvine Housing Association tenants last month Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said that it was “unacceptable that anyone should experience fuel poverty in Scotland which is why we are investing more than £103 million to tackle this issue head on.”

She added: “Our new loan scheme will give homeowners the opportunity to apply for interest-free loans which will make it easier for them to take action and install energy efficiency measures in their properties. The loan can be used alongside the Cashback voucher.

“I’d encourage anyone with fuel poverty concerns to seek free and impartial advice on how they can reduce their energy costs or how to receive support for home insulation, boilers or central heating, by contacting Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282.

“Since 2009 we have allocated over half a billion pounds to make Scotland’s homes more energy efficient with over 700,000 households benefiting from measures like new boilers or insulation.

“The Scottish Government is determined to tackle the inequalities that exist in our society, and making sure everyone has access to a home where they can be safe and warm, is an essential part of this.”

Commenting on Ms Burgess’s announcement, Neil Marshall, the Chief Executive of the National Insulation Association, which represents the insulation industry in Scotland said: “We welcome and congratulate the Scottish Government on this new package of support which will enable thousands of households to receive insulation measures to combat fuel poverty whilst stimulating work for Scottish businesses.”

He added: “The Scottish Government is showing leadership and innovation in its approach to tackling fuel poverty and stimulating demand for energy efficiency amongst Scottish householders through the design of the new schemes, targeting hard to treat properties and the new interest free loans.

“What's more, the fact that it includes another phase of the Cashback also provides much needed support to housing associations and councils in tackling their least efficient housing stock as they strive to work towards the recently announced EESSH standards.”

As part of the funding measures, North Lanarkshire Council has been awarded £2,986,000 from the Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland: Area Based Schemes programme – funding which the council has pledged will go towards houses in Cumbernauld, Coatbridge and Wishaw.

Des Murray, the council’s Head of Housing Property explained: "So far, almost 800 homes, both council and privately owned properties have benefited from our programme of improved heating and external wall insulation as part of the HEEPS programme.

"Securing this funding allows us to carry out further energy improvement work on another 373 properties over the next twelve months, which will help people reduce their annual energy bills.

"The money will be used to tackle fuel poverty and our local homes energy team have been working to identify properties need help to improve energy efficiency,” he added.