Predictions of fuel poverty growth in Wales ‘spine-chilling’ says Lib Dem leader
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds has described the findings of a new report into spiralling fuel poverty in Wales as “truly spine-chilling.
The charity National Energy Action Cymru is warning that over 280,000 households will be “devastated” by a £100 million increase in energy bills which they say could “even cause premature deaths” and is calling for a new mandatory social tariff to help make energy more affordable for low-income households.
Last week the UK’s energy sector regulator, Ofgem, confirmed that its price cap would be raised by 54% in April, an eyewatering as well as record-breaking increase.
The average household’s annual energy bill is currently between £1,277 and £1,370.
The increase in the price cap means many households could see their energy bills rise by around £700 a year, with some parts of Wales, including Ceredigion (£972), Gwynedd (£904), Carmarthenshire (£853) and Powys (£848), set to be the hardest hit in the UK.
In response to the charity’s projections, Ms Dodds, Senedd Member for the rural region of Mid & West Wales said: “These predictions are truly spine-chilling. I represent a region that already has extremely high energy poverty levels. As of pre-pandemic statistics Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Powys already had energy poverty levels of 23%, 21% and 17% respectively. These were well above the Welsh average of 12% at the time.
“Given the rapid rises in energy costs, which are affecting rural areas like Ceredigion the most it is highly likely energy poverty in my region has now reached endemic levels. This could get worst given the ongoing tensions with Russia pushing up global oil and gas prices yet again.
“This not only places a massive burden on the finances of my constituents, forcing many to choose between heating and eating, but also places a huge burden on their mental health and physical health.
“We know that some 10 per cent of excess winter deaths in the UK are directly attributable to fuel poverty and 21.5 per cent of excess winter deaths are attributable to the coldest 25 per cent of homes.
“While I appreciate the Welsh Government has stepped up support, I would urge them to look into providing additional support to those worst affected.
“I also continue to call on the UK Conservative Government to double and expand the Warm Home Discount Scheme and double the Winter Fuel Payments to protect vulnerable people this winter, funded by a one-off ‘Robin Hood Tax’ on the record profits of global oil and gas companies.”
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