Shadow Minister attacks Welsh Government following energy cap price rise
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Energy, Janet Finch-Saunders MS, has accused the Welsh Government of “economic mismanagement” and called for bold action from the next Prime Minister to address the UK’s energy price crisis.
Her comments were made following the massive hike in energy prices announced on Friday by the regulator Ofgem.
The energy price cap is set to rise by 80% by October, pushing the average household’s yearly bill in the UK up from £1,971 to £3,549.
Following the announcement, First Minister Mark Drakeford criticised Westminster’s “failure to address this crisis” and called for an emergency budget to raise windfall taxes on energy companies’ profits and freeze prices.
Ofgem also warned the UK Government it must act urgently to “match the scale of the crisis we have before us”, with recent research suggesting almost 70% of households in Wales could be in fuel poverty by January.
In defence of Westminster’s handling of the crisis, Mrs Finch-Saunders, MS for Aberconwy, said: “I am proud of the £37 billion worth of support that the UK Conservative Government has provided to help tackle the rising cost of living.
“However, as we go into an uncertain winter, it is vital that the new Prime Minister takes bold and radical action in their support for the hardest hit across the United Kingdom.
“A quarter of a century of Labour’s economic mismanagement and poor policy making has left Welsh workers with the lowest pay packet in Britain and the highest rate of child poverty in the United Kingdom.
“If Labour ministers had not wasted money on ineffective schemes such as the NEST programme, the people of Wales would have been better placed to deal with this financial uncertainty.”
The Nest scheme is a Welsh Government programme which aims to help people to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and assist households in accessing benefits.
Following confirmation of the energy cap increase, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi suggested that people across the UK earning around £45,000 annually could struggle to cope with soaring living costs as households prepare for another painful price hike over the winter.
He said things will be “really hard” for middle-earners, as well as society’s most vulnerable.
Mr Zahawi also told the Telegraph newspaper he refused to rule out freezing the energy cap as suggested by Labour, insisting “nothing is off the table”.
New research, published by the University of York last week, predicted Wales will be among the hardest hit of the nations and regions of the UK by fuel poverty this winter.
The 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.
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.