Thou­sands shiver in their homes

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Dou­glas Dickie

Thou­sands of fam­i­lies in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang are liv­ing in ‘cold homes’ ac­cord­ing to shock­ing new fig­ures.

Sta­tis­tics re­leased on Mon­day by the Ex­ist­ing Homes Al­liance show 20,500 house­holds - or 59 per cent of all homes - in the Ruther­glen con­stituency are classed as ‘un­healthily cold’.

A cold home is a home rated be­low a C EPC (Energy Per­for­mance Cer­tifi­cate) stan­dard.

The Na­tional In­sti­tute of Health and Care Ex­cel­lence ( NICE) has rec­om­mended that, as a min­i­mum, prop­er­ties should be raised to an EPC band C and ideally to a band B to help re­duce the risk of death and ill health as­so­ci­ated with liv­ing in a cold home.

It is also es­ti­mated 35 per cent of house­holds in the con­stituency are liv­ing in fuel poverty.

In Jan­uary, the Re­former re­ported that dozens of fam­i­lies in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang were be­ing forced to chose be­tween heat­ing and eat­ing with 33 per cent spend­ing more than a tenth of their to­tal in­come on fuel.

Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bu­reau this week re­vealed they dealt with 150 en­quiries about fuel poverty in the first three months of 2016.

Man­ager Sharon Hamp­son said: “It’s the big­gest is­sue we deal with here in terms of util­i­ties and it’s get­ting to the stage where some fam­i­lies are hav­ing to pick be­tween heat­ing their homes and feed­ing them­selves.

“Some of these com­pa­nies put stand­ing charges on their pre-pay me­tres so some peo­ple are pay­ing £2 be­fore they even switch any­thing on. We get clients ask­ing if they can change to monthly pay­ments but they get re­fused be­cause the energy com­pany makes too much money off them.

“It puts peo­ple into a vicious cy­cle of debt.”

In neigh­bour­ing East Kil­bride, the per­cent­age is even higher, with 60 per cent of house­holds clas­si­fied as ‘cold homes’ while in Hamil­ton, Larkhall and Stone­house, the fig­ure is a whop­ping 64 per cent.

In the Glas­gow Cath­cart con­stituency, which cov­ers Castlemilk, Croft­foot and King’s Park, the fig­ure is 55 per cent of homes with 35 per cent liv­ing in fuel poverty.

And in Glas­gow South, which con­tains To­ry­glen, the fig­ures are 54 per cent and 38 per cent re­spec­tively.

Across Scot­land, just un­der 1.5mil­lion homes are clas­si­fied as ‘cold’ with seven con­stituen­cies hav­ing fig­ures of above 75 per cent.

The Ex­ist­ing Homes Al­liance is an um­brella or­gan­i­sa­tion whose mem­bers in­clude WWF Scot­land, Change­works, and the Na­tional In­su­la­tion As­so­ci­a­tion,

The group’s chair, Alan Fer­gu­son, said: “These fig­ures show that if the next Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment set an ob­jec­tive to bring all homes in Scot­land to at least a ‘C’ energy per­for­mance stan­dard by 2025, they could end the scourge of cold homes cur­rently af­fect­ing thou­sands of house­holds in ev­ery sin­gle par­lia­men­tary con­stituency across Scot­land.”

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