Scotland

Energy efficient homes will 'boost economy'

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More government investment in home energy efficiency programmes could help tackle climate change and create up to 9,000 jobs, economists have said.

Researchers said increased spending could boost economic activity across Scotland and reduce fuel poverty.

They have called for a national infrastructure programme to improve the efficiency of Scotland's homes.

The Scottish government said 40% of Scottish homes were now in the top three energy efficiency ratings.

Economists at the University of Strathclyde and London School of Economics were backing calls from the Existing Homes Alliance to "transform" Scotland's existing housing stock by making it more energy efficient.

The alliance is a coalition of housing, environmental, fuel poverty and industry organisations.

'Lasting boost'

The economists said investment in energy efficiency would be an economic "shot in the arm" and one of the best ways to tackle cold homes.

They welcomed the first minister's announcement in the programme for government that £20m of funds would be channelled into energy efficiency and urged the government "to build on this good start".

Prof Karen Turner, director of the Centre for Energy Policy at the University of Strathclyde, said: "Our own research shows that energy efficiency improvements free up disposable income for low-income households to better heat their homes or to spend on other things.

"This helps reduce fuel poverty and drive new economic activity, delivering a long term and lasting boost to the economy on top of the infrastructure programme itself.

"With the UK economy still reeling in shock from the EU referendum, energy efficiency investment is a direct shot in the arm, delivering a relatively rapid economic stimulus."

Scottish Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: "We have allocated almost £650m since 2009 and, as announced in programme for government, we will make a further half a billion pounds available over the next four years, meaning over £1bn will have been committed by 2021 to tackling fuel poverty and improving energy efficiency.

"As a result of our record investment since 2009, two fifths of Scottish homes are now in the top three energy efficiency ratings - an increase of 71% since 2010."

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