Support our Nation today - please donate here

Cost of living pushes older people in Wales into fuel poverty

29 Nov 2023 3 minute read
Fuel poverty

Stephen Price

Older people in Wales face falling deeper into fuel poverty this winter because of the cost-of-living crisis and a lack of long-term solutions, a new report has found.

The report, published by Care & Repair Cymru, sheds light on the serious winter challenges facing older people in Wales, which persist year-on-year.

Titled ‘Older People in Wales: Poverty in Winter 2023-24’, the report reveals that despite government financial support the average Care & Repair client will be spending 19% of their income toward fuel and water bills this winter.

Significant health risks

Chris Jones, CEO of Care & Repair Cymru, said: “From the onset of the cost-of-living crisis, we have seen more and more people struggling to keep on top of their energy bills, and unable to keep warm and safe in their homes. At Care & Repair Cymru, we do not accept that any older person should become ill because they live in a cold home. But long-term solutions are needed to ensure households can afford to keep warm, ultimately preventing cold-related illnesses and unnecessary hospital admissions.”

The findings show that 96% of households accessing Care & Repair’s energy advice service were identified as living in fuel poverty. Fuel poverty poses significant health risks, especially to those aged 75 and above, increasing the likelihood of respiratory problems, cardiovascular issues, falls, and hospitalisations.

Care & Repair help people like 67-year-old Sally (not her real name), who lives in a 1950’s terraced house in Cardiff. She had been struggling with a cold home and broken heating for several years. She said, “After having the boiler for over 15 years it was breaking down and we couldn’t get the parts. It was a real worry that I would be freezing cold and it wouldn’t come on. Sometimes there was no hot water because the boiler had gone, so we were boiling kettles and saucepans.” Sally was referred to Care & Repair and the Welsh Government’s NEST scheme. “Sarah Penny from Care & Repair introduced me to NEST. Best thing that ever happened; saved my skin. I was so relieved and so happy.”

Wellbeing sacrificed

While there has been an increase in the state pension in line with inflation, older citizens still face higher utility expenses. This places additional stress on already vulnerable households, raising concerns about escalating debts and the struggle to afford necessities.

The report underlines the limitations of short-term measures in addressing the financial burdens older people face, and calls for lasting, comprehensive solutions.

Faye Patton, Policy Manager at Care & Repair Cymru, said: “While immediate government support has been a lifeline, it’s not a blueprint for lasting change. We need sustainable solutions that address the root causes of energy poverty among older people in Wales. This isn’t just about this winter or the next; it’s about breaking the cycle of fuel poverty and adopting long-term strategies. We must create an environment where the older generation can comfortably heat their homes without sacrificing their wellbeing.”

Care & Repair Cymru proposes several long-term solutions to address these issues. They believe that the introduction of social tariffs is one idea that would help, as it involves offering discounted energy price plans to vulnerable households to ensure affordability, safeguarding against future energy price surges.

The charity is also calling for a safety net grant for housing disrepair, which will rectify hazardous disrepair in Welsh homes and significantly improve thermal efficiency, curbing unnecessary energy usage.

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
David Smith
7 months ago

We need sustainable solutions that address the root causes of FOOD and energy poverty among older people in Wales. Cash first policies required.

7 months ago
Reply to  David Smith

Not just older people, although I have a vested interest in that age group. ALL the basic services and consumables have rocketed in costs, retailers are mostly enjoying growth in profits and that affects most people in all age groups. I guess we all know where the problems lie but our politicians are all hooked on measuring the “well being” of the economy in terms of “profitability”. They wave their arms about as though they are really concerned but it’s all gesture politics and utterly shallow.

7 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Well said spend on white Elephant,
33 million for digging up a river.
Millions on 20 mph signs
And more AMs a waste of our tax payers money, they get the pay from tax payers they should be listening to the people of Wales,NHs on it knees due to this government broken Wales time to vote them out
No vote of confidence in government

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.