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Charities call for dual action to tackle energy inefficient homes

Three charity groups have called on the government to take action to ensure properties up and down the country are as energy efficient as possible. 

The call came​ in​ a joint statement issued by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the the Existing Homes Alliance - a coalition of housing, energy saving and consumer advice organisations.

It was noted that the government may find it difficult to tackle climate change and meet its carbon reduction targets if such action is not taken sooner rather than later. 

Particular attention was paid to Scotland, where the government has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent by 2020. 

Furthermore, 40 per cent of the nation's households are thought to be facing fuel poverty. This is the highest level the measure has stood at in more than a decade. 

Fuel poverty was also singled out as another concern facing landlords and residents in Scotland. The government has committed to eradicating this problem altogether by November 2016. 

Chair of the Existing Homes Alliance Alan Ferguson noted that fuel poverty is not something experienced solely by the unemployed. 

"We're seeing families across Scotland, not just those out of work but also working people, who have to choose between heating and eating," he commented. 

"As numbers using food banks continue to rise, we're also hearing from those who can't even cook what they receive from the food bank because they can't afford the electricity."

Mr Ferguson acknowledged that this may seem like an extreme example, but warned it is one that is increasingly commonplace. He praised the existing action the government has already taken to address the issue, but emphasised the fact that more needs to be done. 

"While schemes like the Home Energy Efficiency Programme for Scotland are making progress, we agree that a more concerted effort, joined up across government departments and with more funding, must be made if we're serious about ending fuel poverty and bringing bills and emissions down," he commented.

RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe noted that nurses are at the frontline of patient care. As such, her organisation has direct experience of the health problems that emerge as a consequence of fuel poverty. 

Landlords may be advised to bear in mind that elderly tenants and those with children are the most likely to be at risk in the colder months, with as many as 2,000 excess winter deaths being recorded in Scotland alone. 

Ms Fyffe called for greater investment to be made to make existing housing stock more energy efficient. 

Head of policy at WWF Scotland Dr Sam Gardner noted that improving energy efficiency in properties also has business benefits, as it can reduce energy bills.