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Warm homes campaigners to stage protest outside UK Government building in Cardiff

17 Nov 2023 5 minute read
There were almost 300 excess winter deaths in Wales last winter.

Emily Price

Campaigners will stage a protest this weekend calling on the UK Government to provide extra support for vulnerable people who can’t afford to heat their homes this winter.

Climate Cymru will lead the rally on Saturday (November 18) at 11am outside the UK Government building in Cardiff as part of a nationwide Warm Homes campaign co-ordinated by Friends of the Earth.

Organisers have created cardboard silhouettes which will be placed around the outside of the building alongside ‘Warm Homes for All’ banners.

Attached to the black silhouettes will be notes from people in Wales who have been forced to attend community hubs in order to keep warm during the cost of living crisis.

The silhouettes are there to represent almost 300 people in Wales who died last winter due to living in cold, leaky homes.

People attending the protest are encouraged to talk to one another and add their own voices to the notes by pegging them to the silhouettes.

Standing charge

Viv Thomas, a Cardiff resident who has a prepayment meter said last winter she was forced to wrap herself in blankets and a sleeping bag because the council refused to replace her noisy, faulty boiler.

She said: “I ran up standing charge debt because I didn’t use the boiler and gas hob, and which now I am unable to clear. When I put money on the meter, it just gets swallowed up with the price hike and standing charge debt.

“Although I work full time, my weekly money is swallowed up as I have been forced to live without gas for many years. I have heaters so I can shut myself off in a room, and just heat that. I cannot afford to downsize because of the rent increases.

“I suffer mental and physical health issues. It is hard to survive everyday, and I take nothing for granted. Things need to change.”

Protesters will call for emergency support for vulnerable households as well as scaling up insulation and its efficiency, and more homegrown renewables.

Spokesperson for Climate Cymru, Bethan Sayed said: “We are demanding immediate action as there were 285 excess deaths in Wales last winter caused by living in cold damp homes and that’s 285 too many.

“We’re approaching the worst winter months and many Welsh people will be finding it tougher than ever with bills double what they were in 2020/1 and families will have built up energy debt over the past two years so they have even less funds to fall back on.

“We need action from both the UK and Welsh Government in supporting vulnerable households and are calling on the UK Government to provide £11.8bn of extra support for those who need it, including a programme of sustainable debt relief.”

Haf Elgar from Friends of the Earth Cymru, who are leading on the United for Warm Homes campaign said: “Around 45% of households in Wales are in fuel poverty, and at the beginning of another winter we cannot have people forced to choose between eating and heating.

“The UK and Welsh Governments must take urgent action to help those who need it the most, and ensure our homes are energy efficient, as this will lower our bills and our carbon emissions.”

The latest research from Warm the Winter shows over a third (38%) of vulnerable households say they cannot afford to put the heating on at all this winter.

Vulnerable households include pregnant women, the elderly, families with young kids, the poor and those with a long term illness.

Desperate

Emma Jones, a local area coordinator for Neath Port Talbot Council said: “Through my role as Local Area Coordinator I am often contacted by members of the community who are desperate for support.

“Often people are in need of food parcels and other essentials. A lot of people tell me they are dreading this winter as they are struggling to pay bills, often it’s unconscionable that while fossil fuel companies are making billions of pounds of excess profits, people across Wales are facing sky high energy bills, leaving many simply unable to heat their homes this winter.”

Sarah Rees from Oxfam Cymru, a partner of Climate Cymru said: “It’s unconscionable that while fossil fuel companies are making billions of pounds of excess profits, people across Wales are facing sky high energy bills, leaving many simply unable to heat their homes this winter.

“The Welsh Government must do everything in its power to make sure everyone is warm this winter: including by urging the UK Government to finance the action needed to both drive down emissions and keep homes warm by implementing a series of common sense taxes on the biggest and richest polluters. As temperatures fall, our political leaders must turn up the heat on those most responsible for the climate crisis we all face; acting decisively to build the fairer, greener Wales we all want to live in.”

Simon Francis from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition added: “Last winter, the health problems caused by living in cold homes mounted up. The Prime Minister and Energy Secretary should be focussed on providing help for households to survive this winter such as an Emergency Energy Tariff for the most vulnerable and a Help to Repay Scheme for those in energy debt.

“At the same time, we need governments across the UK to double down on long-term improvements in living conditions, such as improving the energy efficiency of housing.”


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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
5 months ago

The burgeoning profits of the shareholder tyranny rocket beyond the stratosphere while workers are told pay rises cannot be afforded. Inheritance tax amendments to further enrich the wealthy are being talked about at the same time as the latest attack on poor benefit claimants gets underway. The catastrophic waste of millions on a doomed xenophobic hate scheme (Rwanda plan) confirms that we are being forced to live in a Tory delivered morally bankrupt cesspit.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
5 months ago

Its unbelievable that anyone in the UK cannot afford to heat their homes, the UK is the fifth richest country in the world. The problem is all the wealth is being sucked up by the most well off, mainly the South East and abroad, leaving the rest with of us in the UK with crumbs. To my mind the biggest problem is corruption, a very rich monetarist tory government, out of touch with the real world and no real opposition. Indeed the government plans in the, soon to be revealed autumn statement, is to give the most vulnerable in the… Read more »

No to 20mph
No to 20mph
5 months ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

This. Right here, is why Wales is in this state.
We are not governed by the Tories or Westminster.
We are governed by labour in Cardiff (the senedd).
Every election we put labour back in power to spite the Tories and “get real change”.
Let it be clear, I’m NOT a Tory supporter, but it’s disingenuous to blame them for our problems.
If you want real change, Get Liebour Out.

Jeff
Jeff
5 months ago
Reply to  No to 20mph

We know what the Cons will do in power in Wales, whatever No10 wants and No10 are not looking after a single person in the UK unless they are loaded and a Cons voter/donor (ARTD foghorn is proof of his intent). The benefits of energy in the UK go to offshore piggy banks. The system supports the profits, it supports the wealth, it supports the companies, we fund the profits, that can be changed at No10. It is not. All the billions wasted on PPE, a fraction of that could have made wonders in change nationally for people on the… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
5 months ago

Imagine that instead of paying profits to off shore organisations, UK re invested in green energy at a local level.

All those energy company sell offs have done is make a very small section rich whilst we continue to pay to their profits. And the profiteers will make sure that they try to keep the Cons in power.

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