Winter Fuel Payments should be extended to families on low incomes - Mick Bates AM

2009 Tachwedd 27 4:50 PM

Montgomeryshire AM Mick Bates has called for an extension to the WinterFuel Payments for those on income support, or those who receive apremium for disability or long-term sickness, as more and more people inWales are plunged into fuel poverty this winter.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Mick Bates said:

"As the cold winter months set in, the urgency of tackling fuel povertyis escalating. Since the Minister agreed to review the Fuel PovertyStrategy in 2007, energy prices have continued to rise pushing more andmore Welsh households into fuel poverty.

"According to estimates by the National Energy Agency, around 340,000households are predicted to be in fuel poverty this winter. There hasbeen a 74% increase in excess winter deaths in Wales last year to atotal of 2500, which averages at 20 extra deaths every day in Wales overthe four winter months which is unacceptable.

"The consultation on a fuel poverty strategy is welcome news,particularly given the current recession which has left so manystruggling to pay their bills. However, we will not see action fromthis for some time yet and waiting until the end of next year for a newscheme will be too little too late for so many.

"Extending the Winter Fuel Payments to those on income support, or thosewho receive a premium for disability or long-term sickness, is apractical measure which can be introduced quickly It would helpalleviate fuel poverty and support those who are in need and fuel poor,so that families in Wales do not have to choose between heating oreating this winter."

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