Weekly Poll: Just Transition Built Environment
We asked our members about their views on the Scottish Government’s Just Transition plan for the built environment. We received 49 responses. This poll was shared with members on 30 June 2023.
Question 1: Do you agree with the Scottish Government’s plans to adapt homes to tackle climate change?
- Yes 75%
- No 25%
Question 2: Who do you think should be responsible for the cost to adapt people’s home?
- Scottish Government Only 59%
- Households Only 0%
- Scottish Government and Household’s should share responsibility 51%
Question 3: What needs to be considered to make sure that these changes don’t unfairly impact on disabled people, people who live in rural areas and those experiencing fuel poverty?
We asked respondents to give us their views and comments.
The overall themes which emerged from responses were as follows:
- Respondents believed overwhelmingly that disabled people, those on low incomes, older people and rural communities should be prioritized for support and financial assistance to retrofit their homes.
- Disabled people can have distinct energy needs due to their disability and/or health conditions which needs to be considered so they are not penalized when adapting people’s homes.
- For those who are in sheltered or social housing there was a prevailing view that adaptations should be made by the local council as they are the landlord.
- Rural homes require specific solutions due to how they are built and the unique challenges of living in a rural area.
- Consensus that people need more information about how to make the changes in an affordable way including how to use equipment.
The majority of respondents were supportive of the Scottish Government’s plans to adapt homes to tackle climate change as part of a just transition. On how this should be paid for there no support for the costs of these changes to be met by households alone without support from Scottish Government. While a slim minority of respondents felt the Scottish Government should be the sole contributor to adaptations there was a significant view that the costs should be shared between households and the government.
Groups Who Should Be Provided With Extra Support and Fair Funding
Respondents agreed that there needs to be additional support in place for citizens who need extra help due to their circumstances. The costs of any adaptations for these groups should be met by the government.
Respondents feel that the government should provide extra assistance to:
- Disabled people.
- Older people on fixed incomes such as pensioners.
- Low income households.
- Rural Communities.
The below comments sums up the overall beliefs of members:
“Disabled people and elderly people who often need more heating, lighting etc and should not be penalised for being elderly or disabled.”
“Disabled people, Elderly, Poor and working poor, and Students. Don’t know which order.”
On the development of funding there was no clear consensus from respondents. The consensus which cuts through is summarized by the following responses:
“Disabled and low income families should be targeted with financial packages to install solar panels and upgrade heating systems which could help reduce bills.”
The overall view from respondents was that for the groups they felt may need additional support and tailored funding was that any support should be available in an accessible way. Furthermore, the amount provided to people should also be enough to meet their needs. Other responses discussed the question of affordability which needs to be calculated in a fair way so that any funding provided by government also ensures that no-one is left behind as part of the just transition due to a persons circumstances. One of the key challenges identified by our members is ensuring that is someone lives in a home which is privately owned by themselves or a private landlord that they aren’t unfairly penalized because they may own their own home. For those in social housing the costs should be covered by the local council as the person’s landlord.
Focused Support for Disabled People
For disabled people their condition means that they might need additional adaptations and support as part of the just transition. Respondents suggested various steps which could help them as homes are adapted; in all cases part of the discussion needs to relate to the specific help a person might need.
“Disabled people may need adaptations to allow us to cope with the transition arrangements. That might be as simple as more time to move furniture, or advance notice of works.”
“Disabled people with respiratory problems. Myself being one of them, I end up with a chest infection while using storage heaters and find gas heating much healthier for me, but I still have to have a window open! So, more support for this group is a must!”
“Feeling cold impacts on your quality of life. Many disabled people are unable to exercise and keep warm. This Group should be prioritised.”
On a financial basis one respondent suggested the following approach could be considered:
“For household that are able to afford retrofitting their homes to be more energy effective, they should pay a greater share of the costs. Whereas household that have low-income, income support, disability, etc, should have greater support. I also believe the Scottish Government should remove the barrier to any potential funding, that excludes disabled people based on other members of their household.”
This focussed support for disabled people should be available clear eligibility criteria which allows for tailored assistance to meet people’s needs. In addition to this the level of funding provided to disabled people should also take into consideration the challenges that disabled people can face when keeping their house warm and the running costs for equipment which helps someone maintain their independence.
On a contribution basis respondents felt that disabled people should not have to bear the cost of the changes needed to achieve a just transition in their home. However, if the government were to decide that a contribution is required from disabled people any level of this must be proportionate and should not result in penalisation of a person to cover the additional costs faced by disabled people by virtue of the fact that they have a disability. Overall, our members feel that the entire cost for adapting a disabled persons home should be met by Scottish Government.
Challenges Facing Rural Areas
For individuals who live in a rural area respondents said that any just transition does takes into account rural deprivation and the structure of houses due to the time that they were built. A few respondents who themselves lived in rural areas mentioned that achieving a just transition would be very difficult for them. This is due to the age of buildings, access to a regular power supply, barriers to improving their home due to regulations and making sure that everyone has access to information and support to help them make decisions.
“One issue that ScotGov really needs to consider is the differences in different regions, some of the regulations that are in place aren’t appropriate for windswept rural areas…If you live in a rural area power cuts are common and a backup fire is needed, being disabled means that I can’t easily get to a warm hub if needed and when the power is out I need to be able to use the fireplace otherwise I’d freeze to death…There’s a massive issue surrounding information needed for people – choosing the correct types of improvement is vital – getting it wrong can be costly.”
Accessible and Inclusive Communication
As we move forward and tackle the climate emergency a large amount of our members stressed the current accessibility limitations of present materials from Scottish Government and other stakeholders to achieve a just transition. It is vital that everyone, regardless of whether they have a disability, are have access to clear and concise information around the changes required.
Some of our respondents said that they found the language and jargon around the changes needed to homes difficult to understand. For a person with a disability that affects their ability to communicate it is essential that such materials are produced in an accessible and inclusive format such as easy read. Materials should also meet the Six Principles of Inclusive Communication provided by Scottish Government as baseline (https://inclusivecommunication.scot/the-six-principles-of-inclusive-communication). The language used should also be accessible for all and free of jargon and where jargon/ technical language is used a definition should be provided. These changes would make sure that disabled people are fully included in the discussion and are able to make an informed decision.
“We need accessible and easy to understand information. Most of what is available is incomprehensible for the average person let alone people with cognitive issues. If it wasn’t for friends and neighbours I wouldn’t have a clue what these things mean. Even they struggle and these are educated people.”
Our members overwhelmingly supported the proposals to achieve a just transition by adapting people’s homes. Respondents did however point out several concerns which would need to be addressed so that no-one is left behind. An ongoing dialogue between Access Panels and Scottish Government to ensure that the lived experience of disabled people is reflected in the plan and any access barriers removed.
The costs of adapting a home is one of the key worries that people have especially during the current cost of living crisis. Respondents feel that there needs to be funding developed by the government to support those on fixed incomes, low incomes, disabled people and those in rural communities. The design of the funding needs to consider people’s circumstances adequately so that nobody is penalized because they are disabled or an older person. The adaptations which will be needed should also take into account the additional costs such as higher energy bills or adaptive equipment disabled and older people face because of their conditions. For people living in sheltered or social housing respondents believe that as the local council or housing association is the landlord these costs should be met by them rather than the tenant. Where someone lives in a private home that they own respondents wanted to make sure that any support or funding doesn’t leave people behind. If someone lives in a rural area any adaptation plan must be relevant and reflective of the needs of the individual and the age of their home; present regulation can prove a barrier.
One of the key parts of any transition plan is making sure that everyone has access to information in an accessible format so that they can make an informed decision. In terms of accessing people who are able to complete any adaptation work is also achieved so everyone can access an affordable solution.
There was also a suggestion that those being asked to carry out any work should be regulated to ensure people do not get ripped off and that the work is of a quality standard. One way this could be achieved is to ensure that as the Scottish Government develops their new Housing Standard which they intend to put into legislation considers that any adaptation work needs to meet an appropriate threshold so that long term everyone has a home which is able to meet the challenges of the climate emergency.
Our members believe that a just transition crucially provides an opportunity to deliver housing which eliminates any societal barriers for disabled people in the sphere of housing as everyone living in Scotland should have a warm, energy efficient home which meets their needs.