A warm feeling

Being of a (small ‘l’) liberal persuasion, I generally dislike the idea of governments sticking their noses into what goes on in your house. Indeed, I lean towards smaller government in general. But there is one nice proposed bit of government intervention that I’m struggling to oppose.

The Greens seem set to use their status as potential kingmakers within the Scottish Parliament in the current budget negotiations to persuade the Scottish Government to adopt their policy of providing free insulation to all of Scotland’s homes. I raised my eyebrows when I first heard about it, thinking it was bound to be expensive. But it’s not really. The scheme would cost £100 million, which is pocket money compared to the £33 billion budget that the Scottish Government has at its disposal.

As such, I’m finding it impossible to see the downside. Everyone in the country gets their homes insulated for free. This allows us all to turn the heating down, with the dual effect of saving us money in the long run and reducing energy consumption (and climate change). Then there are the health benefits involved in having a warm home. It will also provide some jobs in construction at a time when there is slack in that sector — a good bit of Keynesian medicine at just the right time.

Best of all, the scheme is based on a successful experiment that has already taken place in Kirklees, so we know it can be done. It seems like a win–win situation all round. The scheme is relatively inexpensive and the money will soon enough be recovered in the saving in energy bills. It’s difficult to see how it could go badly wrong.

I write about this because it’s a long time since I’ve been so heavily in favour of anything any political party has said. I had rather lost my faith in political parties, and had become jaded with the whole political process. What’s surprising is that it’s the Greens who have grabbed my attention with this excellent policy. Even more surprising is that it’s a policy that involves a degree of extra government intervention. I’ve got to take my hat off to the Greens for managing to get me applauding a policy like this. It gives me a warm feeling, which is quite appropriate.

The Greens have a campaign website called Warm Scotland where the policy is explained in more detail. See also this blog post at Two Doctors. I hope the scheme gets the go-ahead.

2 comments

  1. £100 million doesn’t seem that much, but since (I think) it’s over ten years then a billion pounds does seem like a lot of dosh, which no doubt ministers would like to earmark for something else.

    On the other hand, it’s still an attractive policy at that and probably fairly positive in electoral terms.