Plaid Cymru urges councils to set up ‘warm banks’ to help people survive this winter
Plaid Cymru is urging local authorities across Wales to open ‘warm banks’ this winter to help people counter the worst effects of the soaring cost of heating
Plaid Cymru spokesperson for Social Justice and Equalities and MS for South Wales West Sioned Williams has written to Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend Councils highlighting the need for action in the face of enormous economic pressures on households.
Councils in turn have called for further intervention from the government and say the current funding settlements are totally inadequate to allow them to respond adequately to the crisis.
A poll last week revealed nearly one in four adults plan never to turn their heating on this winter, because of rocketing energy bills.
Last week the energy regulator Ofgem confirmed that the energy price cap is set to rise by 80% by October, pushing the average household’s yearly bill up from £1,971 to £3,549.
“As fuel prices continue to rise to completely unaffordable levels, more and more families will be forced to choose between eating a meal and heating their homes.
“Many people will die unless government at all levels take swift action right now to stop these fully preventable deaths from taking place, Ms Williams said.
“That’s why I am urging the Welsh Government to introduce further measures to mitigate the worst effects of the cost-of-living crisis and am calling on councils in my region to act swiftly to ensure people’s health is not at risk from the cold as we enter the autumn and winter.
“Some local authorities in England are discussing the feasibility of opening “warm banks” – centres where people struggling to heat their homes can go to stay warm.
“To prevent needless deaths and suffering, the Welsh Government needs to introduce a requirement on all Welsh local authorities to introduce this policy.”
Ms Williams has also called for all social rents to be frozen and echoed the calls made by Delyth Jewell MS, Plaid’s energy spokesperson, that energy price caps be returned to pre-April levels.
“In the longer-term, we need to bring energy under public ownership, as Plaid Cymru has been consistently calling for. We also need to look at the steps that could be taken to stem the corporate greed of energy producers through legislation.
“However, right now, the UK Government, Welsh Government and local authorities all need to be fully focused on keeping families warm and on saving lives. We cannot, under any circumstance, stoically accept that people are facing Victorian levels of poverty and even death in 21st century Wales.”
Research published earlier this month revealed Wales will be among the hardest hit of the nations and regions of the UK by fuel poverty this winter.
The University of York study shows that 68.7% of households in Wales are expected to be trapped in fuel poverty by January, compared to the UK average of 65.8%.
London will see the least impact, but even there over half – 56.4% – will be in fuel poverty by January. In Northern Ireland, 76.3% will find themselves in those same conditions.
Overall, an estimated 45 million Britons will be forced into fuel poverty and struggle to pay energy bills this winter, the research found.
Two-thirds of all UK households – or 18 million families – will be plunged into financial precariousness by January due to soaring inflation – which is already at 40-year record high.
The paper also reported 86.4% of pensioner couples will fall into fuel poverty, but single parent households with two more more children will bare the brunt of the crisis with 90.4% struggling to meet their energy bills.
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