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SCOTTISH trade unions have joined forces with housing activists to launch a nationwide campaign to upgrade Scotland’s homes to reduce emissions and tackle fuel poverty.
The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) is leading the Our Climate, Our Homes campaign, calling on councils to establish municipal energy companies to tackle the spiralling energy prices.
Recent figures show that 613,000 households in Scotland were in fuel poverty in 2019, with concerns that the recent cuts to universal credit will worsen the problem.
The campaign claims that more than 60,000 jobs could be created over 10 years if councils were to establish local energy companies and a national infrastructure company.
STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “Never has it been clearer that we need to upgrade our homes.
“Warmer homes mean healthier, happier people and less pressure on the NHS.
“Our campaign sets out how to do this in a way which creates good quality green jobs, tackles fuel poverty, reduces emissions, and provides better value for money for the taxpayer.”
The campaign is supported by Living Rent, the Poverty Alliance, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Common Weal, energy activists, and academics.
Campaigners have highlighted the successful transition to natural gas in the 1970s, which was led by national and local government.
They say that its success is in contrast to the existing construction industry, where criminal practices and poor employment conditions are well-known.
The STUC argues that municipal energy companies and a national infrastructure company could drive up standards while also helping address skill gaps.
Ms Foyer added: “With the right level of funding, municipal energy companies could truly be transformative and the creation of a national infrastructure company would ensure that local authorities can be adequately supported to decarbonise buildings.
“With Cop26 approaching, we need to drastically reduce emissions from our homes, and this is the way to do it that creates good quality jobs and benefits us all.”
The calls come as research by Shelter shows the health of a fifth of renters in England is being harmed by their homes, with the charity urging government to provide funding for upgrades.
Labour shadow housing secretary Lucy Powell said that her party’s plan to give local authorities powers to purchase land would empower communities to build better homes.
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