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Housing and Urban Sector Glasgow Action for Warm Houses

Keyword: Poverty Eradication


Glasgow is a classic northern industrial city, rich in heritage, but now suffering the long term effects of unemployment, poverty and deprivation in the form of poor health due to inadequate heating. The City of Glasgow has developed the 'Action for Warm Housing' Programme which is dedicated to energy efficiency investment for municipal housing and aims to provide whole-house heating and power for not more than 10% of net household income. This has required the development of advanced heating technology, the implementation and monitoring of demonstration projects, a mass energy audit and a major shift of capital investment towards heating and energy issues. New relationships with tenants have also been forged so as to learn from their experiences and give them confidence in the use of advanced heating systems. To date thousands of city council homes have received a combination of insulation, new windows and new central heating. Training and employment in the energy trade has greatly increased with the demand for technology and service.


Glasgow's problem, in common with other cities, is how to alleviate poverty and improve health without adding global burdens. All available research suggest that Glasgow's people experience a higher level of ill health than the Scottish average, and substantially higher than the affluent suburbs/prosperous areas within Glasgow.

Research suggests that the linkages through which low incomes and energy inefficiednt housing can have detrimental effects on health, family stability and local economic development. It maight also be possible to argue that poor health in itself could be the reason for someone being obliged to accept the let of a house which was seriously energy inefficient- and thus unpopular with other housing applicants who were able to wait for a better offer. The key feature is that there are multiple feedback loops- and it is possible that those children who grow up with poor health and limited incomes will in turn end up in poor houses.

City housing, in association with the Health Board and Glasgow University, is now carrying out detailed research to explore the linkages between housing investment, health and well-being.

Glasgow's programme of energy efficiency investment in municipal housing aims to provide whole-house heating and power for not more than 10% net income has required:
1) The development of new technologies by Glasgow City Council iteself for advanced efficient central heating systems
2) The implementation and monitoring of demosntration projects
3) A mas energy audit of all dwellings owned and managed by the City Council
4) A major shift of capital investment programme towards heating and energy issues
5) New relationships with tenants to learn fro their experience and give them confidence in the use of advanced heating systems
6) Partnerships with tenants, non-governmental organizations, private sector, government, research agencies and campaign groupts to:
- create jobs and good quality training places in energy efficiency work
- provide energy advice
- develop campaigning strategies to make the case for energy efficiency investment
- gain accurate information about the natrue of the problem
- access financial resources which would otherwise be untapped


The energy strategy was developed from a public energy inquiry and concers about unemployment and poverty. There is wide acceptance of the stategy, but new technologies pose many questions.

For example, the system at the Cardow Road demonstration project operates most efficiently if people leave intermal doors open to allow circulation of warm air throughout the home, and leave the controls as set.

Under these conditions, tenants will enjoy living room temperatures of 22 degrees celcius for 18 hours a day plus full hot water for 18 hours a day at a cost of L3 per week, compared with L16 per week before improvements. This has led to a number of managment issues which need to be resolved.

For people used to living in energy inefficient homes in Scotland, saving fuel and keeping bills low means closing internal doors, turning heating appliances down and being frugal with hot water. It is difficult for peole to believe that they can have improved comfort and lower fuel bills by acting in ways which are, for them, counterintuitive. Continuous dialoge is needed between technicians, managers and users of the system.


The City Council's primary goal is to assess all its existing housing stock and identify housing which would, at present or after improvement, meet the needs of a wide range of customers who require, as a matter of priority, houses with efficient isulation and affordable whole-house heating, located in a safe, secure and pleasant environent. Through its "Glasgow Action for Warm Homes" programme, City Housing will, as a secondary goal, seek to encourage other social housing providers to create housing of this quality in the course of new build, rehabilitation and conversion schemes.


12,000 City Council homes have been provided with new central heating installations
18,000 City Council homes have received new windows
9,300 City Council homes have received insullation

Since Heatwise was set up in 1983:
110,000 City Council homes have received draughtproofing
22,143 City Council tenants have taken advantage of energy advice
235 permanent jobs have been created directly through the Wise Group
5,735 trainees have passed through the Wise Groups' programmes. These were all people who had experienced long-term unemployment. At least half of them were successful in obtaining permanent full time jobs.

Health and welfare impacts of energy efficiency investment are currently being measured


1) wider use of new technology/control systems developed by Glasgow City Council for domestic use in public, commercial and industrial buildings.

2) The Glasgow standard of whole-house heating a power for no more than 10% of net household income has been adopted by the Local Government Management Board as an environmental indicator which integrates social, economic and environmental issues.

3) Glasgow's experience is being used campaigning for a reassessment of the Tolerable Standard- the basic standard of housing acceptability in Britain.

4) Innovative use of private finance.

5) The programme develops alliances between housing workers, health workers and anti-poverty campaigners. It has provided a widely recognised case study which integrates anti-poverty, social justice and health arguments with environmental arguments. Glasgow has now been awarded pilot project status in the OECD's "Ecological City" programme.

6) The decision making process itself is particularly appropriate for broader application as we have developed a service standard based on teh achievement of levels of warmth for less than 10% of net household income, rather than a technical standard of achieving uniform levels of energy efficiency thoughout the stock. This means investment can be directed in variable packages, to achieve an outcome based on users' requirements.


1977- First documented evidence of the problem: Scottish Local Authorities Housing Group reports 14,764 system built municipal dwellings suffering from 'dampness'

1983- Glasgow District Council submission to the British Government (House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee) estimates that 19,600 dwellings are affected by condensation, and problems are increasing

1985- First Glasgow House Condition Survey estimates that 84,500 dwellings in the city identified as suffering condensation, dampness, mould growth- 29% of the city's total housing stock. Two thirds of municipal tenants with children under 14 report problems with dampness or condensation


    David Comely
    Director of Housing
    City of Glasgow
    G1 1HL


    Glasgow District Housing Council
    David Comley, Director of Housing
    Wheatley House
    25 Cochrane Street
    G1 1HL


    Dr. Harry Burns, Director of Public Health, Greater Glasgow Health Board
    David Comely
    Director of Housing, Wheatly House
    G1 1HL

    Glasgow Council of Tenants Assoc., 31 Chisholm St. Glasgow
    Allan Sinclair, Managing Director
    72 Charlotte St.
    G1 5DW

    Dr. Andrew Lyon, Healthy Cities Project, Exchange House, 229 George Street
    John Ewing, Asst. Sec. for Housing
    Old St. Andrews House
    EH1 3DG

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