A nationwide programme to make homes more energy-efficient could help reduce fuel poverty and also boost the economy, campaigners have said.

The Existing Homes Alliance is calling on the Scottish Government to introduce a co-ordinated and fully-funded programme to improve the energy- efficiency of all homes.

Alan Ferguson, chairman of the Alliance, made the plea to Infrastructure and Capital Investment Secretary Alex Neil ahead of a statement in Holyrood on fuel poverty.

Mr Ferguson, also director of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: "In tough economic times it is vital that efforts to tackle fuel poverty are delivered efficiently, which is why we call upon the Cabinet Secretary to implement a coordinated and fully-funded national retrofit programme to install energy-efficiency measures in Scotland's homes. Such a programme should be aimed at delivering on both fuel poverty and climate change targets while combining existing efforts to ensure all fuel-poor householders can access help to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and cut their bills."

A household is classed as being in fuel poverty if it has to spend at least 10% of income on energy bills.

According to a Scottish Government survey, an estimated 658,000 households were in fuel poverty in Scotland in 2010, or 28% of households.

The Scottish Fuel Poverty Forum is due to publish its recommendations for tackling fuel poverty today.

Mr Neil said: "The Scottish Government is grateful to the Fuel Poverty Forum for their valuable contribution to the important debate about how we can tackle fuel poverty, a problem that an energy-rich nation like ours should not have."