This week I spoke in a debate in the Scottish Parliament calling on the Government to re-set the target for addressing fuel poverty. I also highlighted the advances on energy efficient homes made by local councils and housing associations, and argued that action must be taken to introduce similar standards in the private rented market.
We have seen a massive growth of people living in the private rented sector due to the ongoing housing crisis here in Scotland. Over the past 10 years the numbers have doubled to 368,000. And it is housing costs that are pushing more and more people into poverty.
However, while we have seen good improvements to help tackle fuel poverty in the social rented sector due to the introduction of a duty for energy efficiency standards, the same cannot be said for the private rented sector.
It cannot be right that, on a scale of nought to 10, energy efficiency on average in a council house or a housing association house is 7.5 whereas, in a private rented sector, the figure is 2 or 3. That is just not acceptable. The standard that we set for people to live in social rented houses should be the same for the private market, especially given that so much public money from housing benefit is used in this sector.
I was pleased that the SNP, the Greens and the Liberals supported Labours motion and now the government must bring forward their strategy for fuel poverty including parity between the public and private rented markets on what standards are expected for energy efficient homes.