Lagging behind.

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warmscotland.pngLast year, regular readers will know, the Green MSPs proposed a massive national insulation programme to cut household bills, help tackle climate change, and boost jobs. The signals from Ministers were positive until the final hour, then it fell apart. 

It had become clear that the SNP were going to stick to the same old New Labour means-tested approach, despite all the evidence it wouldn't work. 

They were also convinced that we were bluffing about the need to take a more radical approach, and instead they listened to the siren voices arguing for business as usual. The Budget duly fell, and then, because they didn't need Green votes the next time round, they just did the bare minimum to make it look like they'd been listening.

Subsequently, to nobody's great surprise, it became clear that their timid mini-programme was indeed destined not to deliver, nor would their related loans programme, also promised during the Budget.

Since then WWF have published a fascinating report on proper free area-based loft and cavity work (full report as pdf here). The report draws on three well-run schemes, delivered in Hadyard Hill, Girvan and Fintry.

It shows that it cost £1 to allow householders in these three communities to save £1 on energy bills - remember that's a recurring saving. The Warm Deal, the Scottish Government's precursor to the Energy Assistance Package, cost almost two and half times as much to give similar savings.

The main argument against our approach is a seductive one: we should target the fuel poor, and make insulation free for those on benefits or over a certain age. Surely that'd be the most efficient use of money? It sounds it, until you remember that climate change is also an important objective here.Furthermore, in these three places WWF found that between 21% and 69% of all those in fuel poverty wouldn't have met the Scottish Government's criteria, and they'd have had to pay.

The only way that information was discovered is because these schemes were open to everyone. It has to be the way, at least for the cheapest and most cost-effective measures. There's a lot more in the report, and I really recommend it.

The strange thing about last year's Budget was the sheer scale of the opportunity missed by the SNP. Labour's efforts in London have been ineffective means testing, and they had a chance to show they could run Scotland better. They had the powers, and they flunked it. It would have been theirs, not ours: their signature achievement to go into the next election. Who knows what that will be now? I think failure to get the referendum through is a poor substitute.

The model we're proposing, was perhaps counter-intuitively implemented by a minority Tory council, in Kirklees (aka Greater Huddersfield). Dave Cameron noticed, and he launched his next local election campaign there.

He's not forgotten, either. His scheme, announced today to show Labour up during Copenhagen, is on an ambitious scale, albeit with some obvious flaws in it (Tescos and M&S probably aren't the best partners). But compared to the Tories, it's not just Labour who are lagging behind. The SNP are too.


Have these people not heard of Damart?
It is Scotland after all!!?

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Post History

This page was published on December 15, 2009 10:57 PM.

Who's local? was the previous entry in this blog.

Is that a motorway in your pocket or are you just pleased to see yourself? is the next entry in this blog.