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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-12063: Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 17 October 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what its response to the 2016-17 winter mortality statistics, which recorded an excess of 2,720 deaths compared with the warmer months and, in light of these figures, (a) what immediate action it is taking to address (i) the health of older people and (ii) fuel poverty, (b) whether it considers that there is a need to improve the housing stock in terms of central heating and thermal insulation and (c) what plans it has to revise the policies and proposals regarding domestic energy efficiency in the draft Climate Change Plan.

Answered by: Kevin Stewart 6 November 2017

We are currently finalising our own Climate Change Plan which will set out the actions we will take in Scotland to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We will publish the final Climate Change Plan in early 2018.

The Scottish Government is committed to improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes and buildings. Work is on-going to develop Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) and we are committed to publishing a route map in 2018 that sets out the aim, objectives and clear milestones of SEEP. Alongside this, good progress is already being made and the share of the most energy efficient dwellings (rated EPC Band C and above) has increased by 74% since 2010. As set out in this year’s Programme for Government, we will confirm the introduction of new energy efficiency standards for the private rented sector to ensure tenants are able to enjoy homes that warmer and more affordable to heat, and we will consult owner-occupiers on improving the energy efficiency of their homes.

This Government has always prioritised tackling fuel poverty and we remain committed to improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes. We are delivering our 2016 Programme for Government commitment to make half a billion pounds available over the next 4 years. This means that by the end of 2021, we will have allocated over £1 billion since 2009 on tackling fuel poverty and improving energy efficiency. In addition to this, we will consult on a new fuel poverty strategy and target shortly and take these forward in a Warm Homes Bill to be introduced to Parliament in 2018.

We have made an additional £5 million available to NHS Boards to support winter resilience across Health and Social Care. This funding is to support winter planning and enhance resilience across the services, making sure patients are seen quickly, efficiently and without delay. We are also committed to ensuring people can receive the right care and support, at the right time and in the right setting. Free personal care for people aged 65 and over in Scotland currently benefits approximately 77,000 older, vulnerable adults and we have committed to extending the policy of free personal care to all adults who require it by April 2019.

The causes of winter excess mortality are varied and complex. The Scottish Government remains committed to improving health and to reducing health inequalities.