SCOTLAND should set up a new quango to oversee its ambitious plans to fight fuel poverty and make buildings more energy efficient, an official report has suggested.

More than £10 billion is due to be spent over the next two decades in a bid to slash the carbon footprint of existing buildings to “near zero” by 2050.

Experts insist the move – which will take in £1.56bn in Scottish Government grants – will boost GDP and create up to 6,000 jobs as a result of upgrading works.

But with almost two-thirds of homes currently below standard, and huge improvements required in the commercial sector, ministers face a “significant challenge”.

Now a new report commissioned by the Scottish Government has suggested creating a non-departmental public body to make sure targets are met.

A Government spokeswoman said it was “committed to transforming the energy efficiency of Scotland’s domestic and non-domestic properties”.

However, she stressed the research had been conducted independently and provided an “impartial view of the options”.

She added: “We are carefully considering the findings, alongside our partners in local government.”

Scottish ministers highlighted energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority in 2015, amid wider plans to reduce Scotland’s carbon emissions by 80 per cent in the coming decades.

The Energy Efficient Scotland programme, which will run over a 20-year period, aims to boost the green credentials of Scotland’s buildings and set mandatory standards by 2030 if progress falls behind, as well as tackling fuel poverty.

However, following a consultation in 2017, it was suggested the complexity and long-term nature of the project meant it needed a new body to oversee it.

A report by auditors KPMG has now suggested the “leading options” would be setting up a government directorate or a separate quango, with annual administrative costs of £44m estimated for the scheme.

It found a quango was the “highest performing model regarding role delivery”.

More than half of Scotland’s energy consumption is used for heating or cooling buildings.

Scottish Greens energy spokesman Mark Ruskell MSP welcomed the proposals.

He said: “Emissions from our homes and buildings account for a quarter of Scottish greenhouse gas emissions.”