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Was 4,600 Boiler Scrappage Scheme vouchers enough for Scotland?

By Rob Hull on June 2, 2010

If you blinked you would have missed it. Because within 36 hours of the Scottish Boiler Scrappage Scheme going live on 24 May all 4,600 vouchers had been allocated, the scheme closed and thousands of residents left scratching their heads and rueing a missed opportunity. But was 4,600 vouchers really enough to cater for the whole of Scotland?

Many have argued not. The boiler scrappage scheme in England lasted three months in comparison to the 36 hours for the Scottish version – however there was a 120,000 discrepancy in vouchers available between the two.

England’s boiler scrappage scheme was backed by £50m of funding and 125,000 vouchers worth £400 off the price of a new energy-efficient SEDBUK band A-rated boiler were made available. In contrast, Scotland’s scheme received just £2m in backing from the Scottish Government with a total of 4,600 vouchers up for grabs. So it came as no surprise that the Scottish scheme ran for less than two days compared to England’s scrappage scheme which operated from 5 January to 26 March. And with so many Scottish homeowners missing out, numerous MSPs have called for an extension of the scheme.

Labour’s environment spokeswoman Sarah Boyack pressured First Minister Alex Salmond last week saying: “Given the massive response from Scottish householders in such a small space of time, surely this is precisely the sort of scheme the Scottish Government should be supporting.

“Will they now not commit to extend this scheme for the thousands of our constituents who couldn’t make that time horizon?”

And Orkney Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur joined the assault suggesting homeowners in remote and more rural areas were put at a distinct disadvantage due to the time it took to get quotations for the boiler and fitting before being eligible to apply for a voucher.

But Salmond cited a lack of funds due to the UK Government’s spending cuts as refusal to an extension, adding: “We continue to provide targeted support for the financial year through the £25m, area-based home insulation scheme and the fuel poverty-focussed energy assistance package”.

Energy Minister Jim Mather, who claimed the scheme would cut average fuel bills by £235, said: “I’m pleased thousands of people have taken advantage of our £2m support to replace their inefficient boilers”.