The Scottish Government has been accused of bungling a flagship scheme to make private rented properties more energy efficient after it had "almost zero impact".

Figures obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats show just 0.06% of private rented homes have so far benefited from a plan launched more than three years ago. 

The Private Rented Sector (PRS) Landlord Loan scheme was set up in April 2020 to support the installation of energy efficient and renewable measures across Scotland.

But only 215 of the 340,000 properties in the sector have had funding for retro-fitting.

Of these, 190 have been for energy efficiency measures such as insulation, while 26 have received funding for renewable measures such as heat pumps and solar panels.

It suggests only one home received funding for both classes of improvements in line with the Government’s own ‘whole home’ approach to decarbonise heat in buildings.

The LibDems said that the whole-home approach was a focus of other warm home schemes, but appeared to have been omitted from the PRS Landlord Loans. 

Less than half the funding for the PRS scheme has been allocated, with just £1.2m of the £2.5m available awarded by September.

Under the scheme, sole-trader and company landlords can apply to borrow money to improve registered rental properties which are not short-term lets or holiday homes.

Loans of up to £15,000 per property are available for energy efficiency improvements such as insulation and better glazing, and up to £17,500 for renewable systems including turbines, solar panels, heat pumps, biomass boilers, and district heating connections. 

A loan of up to £6000 per property is also available for associated energy storage systems.

The loan funds are only released after the work has been carried out and has received an updated Energy Performance Certificate.

LibDem energy spokesman Liam McArthur said: “This is supposed to be one of the Scottish Government’s flagship schemes to decarbonise and warm homes, yet it is having almost zero impact.  

“The poor uptake and lack of a whole-home focus suggest the scheme was cobbled together without any serious understanding of how to deliver warmer, greener homes for people living in private rental properties. 

“If Scottish Ministers are serious about making energy efficiency a national priority, they must ensure schemes provide the necessary incentive and that effort is put into promoting uptake.  

“That is the only way to make meaningful progress in decarbonising homes and reducing fuel poverty." 

He added: "Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to call for a national emergency insulation programme for all homes across the country, with a particular focus on those homes which are hardest to heat. 

“This will accelerate progress towards creating properties which are both financially and environmentally sustainable.”  

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Homes in the private rented sector typically have a poorer standard of energy efficiency than other properties and we know that private tenants want to see their landlords invest some of the rental income in making properties warmer and cheaper to heat and to tackle fuel poverty.

“The scheme is demand led. We would encourage private sector landlords interested in finding out more about the scheme to contact Home Energy Scotland.

"Unlike the UK Government, we have not scrapped the plan to introduce energy efficiency standards for private rented homes, and details will form part of our Heat in Buildings consultation to be published next week."