By Oliver Farrimond
THE Scottish Government was accused of letting down OAPs over fuel yesterday – as they launched a radical new scheme aimed at improving energy consumption.
Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney unveiled a plan to lend cash to homeowners to help them install double-glazing, replace faulty boilers and fit eco-friendly wind turbines or solar panels.
The package would see interest-free loan of between £500 and £10,000, allowing householders to improve their carbon footprint and cut their fuel bills while reducing emissions.
But Scottish Labour’s Andy Kerr condemned the scheme, and said that the SNP government offers “cold comfort” to Scotland’s householders.
Mr Kerr, Shadow Finance Secretary and MSP for East Kilbride, said: “A pilot scheme to provide loans is cold comfort to many and not an adequate response to this Government’s failure.
“The SNP government’s Energy Assistance Package has delivered just 173 central heating installations since it began in April.
“In contrast, Scottish Labour’s Central Heating Programme provided over 100,000 homes with new central heating systems and other energy saving measures, such as insulation.
“The sad truth is that the SNP are letting down Scotland’s pensioners and we need to see much more urgent action from ministers to ensure that our elderly people are living in warm, energy-efficient homes.”
Mr Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, said: “We are putting in place a loans mechanism that will allow people to invest in a range of measures to reduce their energy use in their own property.
“It’s part of our overall commitment to reduce carbon emissions and join the international effort to tackle climate change.
“There’s the possibility that these loans can be paid back over an eight year period, and it gives people a practicable and tangible way of making an investment in their own property.
“I think it will be a very attractive product to members of the public, and it will give them every opportunity to improve their own homes.
“Crucially, it will to save costs to help them with the repayments of these loans.”
The loan scheme forms part of a wider package on energy efficiency published by the Scottish Government.
The document – titled “A Consultation on the Energy Efficiency Action Plan for Scotland” – outlines a broad range of measures on how energy can be saved.
The SNP administration has already pledged Scotland’s emissions should be cut 42 per cent by 2020.