WAG must clarify funding to back action on fuel poverty - Mick Bates AM

2009 Tachwedd 9 5:07 PM

Shadow Minister for the Environment and Sustainability, Mick Bates AM,welcomes the launch of the Welsh Government consultation on a new fuelpoverty strategy but states funding for the scheme must be clarified toback the proposals and WAG needs more accurate data to fully grasp thescale and urgency of tackling fuel poverty.

The main proposals in the Welsh Government consultation on Fuel Povertyinclude:

The creation of a new central hub to coordinate all the helpavailable for householders struggling to pay their energy bills.* Funding will be targeted at those most at risk from fuelpoverty. * Early identification of those most vulnerable to fuel poverty sohelp can be provided as soon as possible. * The development of a new, improved programme to helphouseholders reduce the impact of their fuel bills which will replacethe Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES). * Low cost loans for energy efficiency from credit unions.

Commenting, Welsh Liberal Democrat AM Mick Bates states:

"The launch of this consultation on the fuel poverty strategy is welcomenews, particularly given the current recession which has left so manystruggling to pay their bills. It is likely that fuel prices willcontinue to rise which will see more and more people in Wales plungedinto fuel poverty, so it is crucial that we take action to address this.

"I welcome the coordinated approach in the consultation, to provide aone-stop shop for people to access advice, support and funding as wellas the provision of low cost loans for energy efficiency. However allproposals will require funding so it is vital that the Welsh Governmentclarifies the financial support available for this strategy.

"I am pleased to note there will be an improved programme to replace theHome Energy Efficiency Scheme, as currently only 29 % of money underHEES goes to households in fuel poverty. Support under HEES must berefocused to be more effective but I am worried that waiting until theend of next year for a new scheme will be too little too late for somany.

"The Welsh Government has a target to eradicate fuel poverty amongstvulnerable households by 2010 but based on their 2006 figures 209,000vulnerable households are classed as fuel poor. Even this figure is outof date and likely to have dramatically increased given the rise in fuelprices, so obtaining more accurate figures will be key to developing astrategy to fully address the scale and urgency of fuel poverty."

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