MORE than one in 10 homes in Scotland would be classed as being in extreme fuel poverty under a planned new law, figures suggest.

A government paper updating fuel poverty estimates that following changes to the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) Bill, which is currently making its way through Holyrood, a new definition means the number of homes in extreme fuel poverty would rise.

Under the legislation, homes where more than 20% of the household’s adjusted net income goes on energy bills are classed as extremely fuel poor.

Civil servants examined Scotland’s extreme fuel poverty rate in 2017 and found the current definition gives a rate of 7.0%, or 174,000 homes, rising to 293,000 (11.9%) under the planned new classification.

However, the rate for general fuel poverty – where 10% of household adjusted net income is spent on energy bills – falls slightly, with the current criteria giving a rate of 24.9%, or 613,000 homes, and the proposed definition 23.7%, or 583,000 homes.

The Bill proposes a target to cut the number of households affected by fuel poverty to 15% by 2030 and 5% by 2040. Targets for extreme fuel poverty are 5% for 2030 and 1% for 2040.

Extreme fuel poverty rates were higher for all household types under the new definition compared to the current one, while for general fuel poverty the rate for families rose from 12% to 17%.

In homes for those under 65 with no children, rates rose from around a fifth (21%) to around a quarter (26%) while for older households it dropped from around two fifths (39%) to around a quarter (26%).

The rate of extreme fuel poverty in rural areas showed little change, going from 16% under the current classification to 19% under the new rules.