North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood chaired and spoke at the Energy Best Deal Review Event in the Assembly yesterday.
He also welcomed Jayne Bellis from Flintshire-based Pennysmart, the lead organisation for the North Wales Financial Capability Forum.
Ofgem and Citizens Advice have been working together since 2008 developing and delivering face to face consumer advice through the Energy Best Deal scheme.
As chair of the Cross Party Group on Fuel Poverty, Mr Isherwood provided an update on the Cross Party Group’s work to raise awareness of the problem of fuel poverty in Wales and to investigate the solutions needed to combat it.
Energy Best Deal is delivered in England and Wales by members of the regional Financial Capability Forums, getting people off expensive tariffs and onto the best energy deal available to them.
Energy Best Deal sessions are aimed at low income consumers. Front-line staff work with people at risk of fuel poverty, who can be signposted to a range of further help with issues such as fuel debt, benefits entitlement and energy efficiency.
The campaign aims to make people aware of the savings that can be made by switching fuel providers or negotiating with existing providers; provide information about help available from energy suppliers and government for people struggling to pay their gas and electricity bills, and inform consumers about how they might save money by using less energy and sources of advice and help around energy efficiency.
Mr Isherwood said: “With energy bills unaffordable for 1 in 3 Welsh households and the budget constraints on local services, the heat is on for those living in fuel poverty.
“Thankfully, help is out there – but it is our job to connect that help to the people who need it most.
“In 2012, 30% of households in Wales were living in fuel poverty, equating to 386,000 homes. Nearly 85% of these are vulnerable households, containing a child, older person or someone with a disability or chronic illness."
He added: “All stakeholders – government, statutory bodies, private companies and charities – have a moral responsibility to change society to one where: children don’t have to grow up in freezing cold homes with mould on the walls; no pensioner has to wear outdoor clothing inside while shivering in one room of their home; no disabled or ill person has to suffer because they can’t afford to use the heating that will bring them some relief and people aren’t struggling to pay for energy that just vanishes through the walls, roof and draughty gaps of their uninsulated home, leaving them cold and poor.”