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Friday, February 16, 2018

AM calls for new plan to tackle fuel poverty

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood, who chairs the Assembly Cross Party Group on Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency, has made fresh calls for a revised Fuel Poverty Strategy for Wales, emphasising that the existing Welsh Government strategy has not worked.    

A household in Wales is in fuel poverty if they spend 10% or more of their income on energy costs.

Speaking in the Assembly Mr Isherwood (pictured) expressed concern that in 2010 the Welsh Government set out its strategy to eradicate fuel poverty in Wales in all households by 2018, but less than 10 months away from the target date, the most recent statistics show that almost 300,000 households in Wales are living in fuel poverty, 23% of the total, unable to afford to adequately heat their home, or in crippling debt with their energy supplier. 

He said: “It is clear therefore that the Welsh Government Strategy has not worked.

“The objectives of the 2010 Fuel Poverty Strategy are still relevant – it is still vital that we reduce the impact of fuel poverty on households and work to eradicate fuel poverty, it is still vital that we create green jobs and business opportunities, and it is still vital that we reduce energy inefficiency in the domestic sector. 

“However, many of the mechanisms and measures contained within the 2010 Fuel Poverty Strategy are out of date or no longer applicable.

“Although the Nest and Arbed schemes are helping, these alone are not sufficient to tackle the problem. 

“The Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs’ announcement of £104 million investment over the next four years in increasing the energy efficiency of up to 25,000 low income households in Wales is welcomed. However, this will not eradicate fuel poverty by 2018.  This equates to an average of 6,250 homes a year - and if the schemes were to continue to assist similar numbers each year, it would take 48 years to eradicate fuel poverty in Wales.”

Mr Isherwood stated that the annual cost to the Welsh NHS for treating people who are made ill by living in a cold damp home is approximately £67 million.

He added: “With current demand on the Welsh NHS higher than ever before, more needs to be done to tackle cold homes.

“Eradicating fuel poverty will not only lead to a healthier population, but will also contribute to our decarbonisation targets. 

“What is needed now is a revised Fuel Poverty Strategy with ambitious targets and investment in order to eradicate fuel poverty in Wales as a social justice issue once and for all. As the Bevan and Joseph Rowntree Foundations told the Assembly’s Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee three  years ago “fuel poverty should have a higher profile in the Welsh Government’s tackling poverty action plan, because it is a fundamental human need to have a warm home. And as Age Cymru have said ‘the time is right for the Welsh Government to refresh its Fuel Poverty Strategy.”

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