GCU contributes fuel poverty findings to Housing and Wellbeing report

12 June 2015

Dr Keith Baker

Dr Keith Baker

Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) have contributed evidence to the Commission on Housing and Wellbeing’s final report, launched this week (Wednesday, June 10), on the relationship between housing and wellbeing for the people of Scotland in the second decade of the 21st century.

The Commission was established in the summer of 2013 under the chairmanship of Robert Black, the former Auditor General for Scotland.

Funded and hosted by Shelter Scotland, the Commission has been asked to independently consider and recommend national housing priorities and policies to foster and sustain wellbeing for all the people of Scotland.

GCU’s Dr Keith Baker, an expert in environmental science and policy, and PhD researcher Ron Mould provided written and verbal evidence to the Commission in the area of the built environment.

Dr Baker said: “What we flagged up is an ‘energy gap’ between the real and reported consumption and costs of the energy used by rural households, and that there needs to be a focus on rural fuel poverty in particular for improved housing and wellbeing in Scotland.”

A person is to be regarded as living in fuel poverty if more than 10% of the household income is spent on maintaining an adequate heating regime. 

The Scottish Government has a target of eliminating fuel poverty as far as practicable by 2016, however the proportion of fuel poor households was nearly 40 per cent in 2013. For many remote and rural communities, the figure is higher.

Dr Baker said in Scotland, where the urban-rural divide is much more distinct than other areas, the problem of fuel poverty in rural areas is more significant and multi-faceted than existing statistics suggest.

Research conducted by the GCU team has suggested that current policies for addressing fuel poverty are insufficiently sensitive to the needs and circumstances of rural households (Baker et al., 2014).