Poverty in Scotland

Poverty in Scotland is worse than it has been for the past 30 years. According to a Breadline Britain Poverty and Social Exclusion report, 29 percent of Scots are unable to afford three or more basic necessities for living (things like food, water, shelter, and clothing).

A spokeswoman for Glasgow University (which helped to fund the report) said: “For a significant and growing proportion of the population, living conditions and opportunities have been going backwards. Housing and heating conditions in particular have deteriorated rapidly.”

The report found that 8 percent of Scots could not afford to heat the living areas of their homes, and 16 percent of children in Scotland live in a home which is either damp or ineffectively heated. Commonly known as fuel poverty, those affected are unable to keep adequately warm at a reasonable price, and are often forced to spend more than ten percent of their household income on fuel for heating.

“These findings paint a very bleak picture of life for large numbers of people living in low- income households in Scotland today,” said Nick Bailey, a senior urban studies lecturer at Glasgow University.

It is such a crucial issue that the Scottish government has sworn to eradicate it by 2016, or else risk more citizens falling into lifestyles of poverty.

Enter Knowes Housing Association: a company that decided to help fight this growing problem. 350 homes at risk of fuel poverty in the city of Clydebank were supplied with solar PV installations by Edison Energy. Also known as photovoltaic systems, the devices use solar energy to supply usable electric power for a large amount of purposes.

Part of a £2 million energy improvement program for the housing association over the next two years, the solar arrays will generate a revenue stream for the housing association through the associated feed-in-tariff payments. Local installer Edison Energy plans to offer aftercare, financing and maintenance support during the lifetime of these payments.

“In a climate of escalating uncertainty over traditional energy supplies and concern about potential price hikes, it is important to emphasize the vital role that solar PV is already playing – and will continue to play – as part of the renewable energy mix, helping to stave off the threat of fuel poverty in areas hardest hit by the challenging economic circumstances of recent years,” said Richard Rushin, a sales manager for Trina Solar, a company that supplied 4,000 pieces of equipment for the project.

KHA, Edison Energy, and Trina Solar plan to continue working together to create and maintain high-quality projects like this one, in order to help those in danger of fuel poverty in the UK.

“Our relationship with Trina Solar has allowed us to develop a sustainable energy solution using market-leading solar technologies, resulting in lower operations and maintenance costs. It is critical to our business model that we have established relationships with our supply partners to ensure that we work together to deliver a consistently high-quality product, in terms of both system performance and maintenance,” said Fraser MacKenzie, Business Development Director at Edison Energy.

The improvements are expected to deliver annual energy bill savings of £70,000.

Samantha Davis

Sources:  Herald ScotlandScotland.govSolar Power Portal
Photo:  STV News