If national targets for reducing fuel poverty are to be met, ensuring a significant improvement in the energy efficiency of the UK’s social housing stock is vital. The introduction of the Decent Homes Standard and Scottish Housing Quality Standard offered a major opportunity to achieve this. Technically robust, standardised common measurement frameworks will enable housing associations to compare their performance. An earlier work (EAGA40) had developed a toolkit for England and Wales, but the different contexts of Scotland and Northern Ireland required a modified approach.
Key research Question
The resource aimed to provide a simple and easy-to-use tool for social housing providers in Scotland and Northern Ireland to calculate fuel poverty in their properties, target effective measures at priority homes and measure their impact. Using recommended and minimum Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) and National Home Energy Rating (NHER) standards based on different household types and regional variations in climate, the mechanism outlined is deemed to be relatively simple to introduce, administer and explain. This offers housing managers a way to identify and quantify the problem of fuel poverty and to ensure that the right measures are put in place to combat it effectively.
Summary of activity
The report details the development of an annual reporting mechanism for demonstrating progress towards the elimination of fuel poverty for social housing providers. Drawing on recommended and minimum SAP and NHER standards, the development of the tool focused on a number of key factors, including property size, number of occupants, heating patterns and location.
The report makes recommendations for social housing providers, the Scottish and Northern Irish executives and the UK government.
Social housing providers should set annually reviewed affordability targets using SAP/NHER standards. Such targets should form part of an organisation’s affordable warmth strategy.
The Scottish Executive must revise the existing NHER and SAP standards to take account of fuel price rises. The Northern Irish Executive should implement a comprehensive scheme to rate all social housing properties on the SAP scale.
The UK government should consider using SAP ratings to calculate financial payments to low-income tenants to help offset rising fuel bills as an interim option.