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