(Title Image: Mark Isherwood AM)
Fuel poverty is defined as when a household spending 10% or more of their income on energy. In 2016 it was estimated 23% of households in Wales were living in fuel poverty – a fall of 7% since 2012. A short debate held yesterday outlined ideas for how to further reduce it.
Proponent: Mark Isherwood AM (Con, North Wales)
Subject: “Getting smart with fuel poverty “
- In 2011, the Welsh Government set out to eradicate fuel poverty by the end of 2018, yet 23% of households were still living in fuel poverty 10 months from the target date.
- Rural areas are often more affected by fuel poverty and rural needs were largely ignored by the Nest energy efficiency scheme.
- It costs the Welsh NHS £67million a year to treat people affected by cold, damp homes, also colder bedrooms have been linked to mental health problems.
- To meet environmental objectives it’s vital to create more green jobs and improve home energy efficiency; Welsh Government commitments, while welcome, won’t eradicate fuel poverty as it would take 48 years at the current rate of investment to do so.
- Smart meters will provide better estimates of energy use and make it easier for people to switch suppliers or tariffs – but roll out in Wales requires universal mobile connectivity.
- Better insulation, smart appliances and smart heating systems could save a household £184 a year.
- Contributions by energy companies to help customers struggling with energy bills – such as automatically moving them to a safeguarding tariff – “must be embraced”.
- David Melding AM (Con, South Wales Central): There’s good practice emerging in the social housing sector where they’re building homes that produce more energy than they consume.
Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham)
- Wales has the oldest and least heat efficient housing stock in Europe, so it takes more energy to keep them warm.
- Smart meters are a non-devolved matter, but the Welsh Government are working with Smart Energy GB, Ofgem etc. to ensure the needs of Welsh consumers are met.
- Bridgend will pilot a new smart system/heat programme to help research into how best to serve vulnerable, low-income households (more here).
- The proportion of consumers changing energy supplier was higher in Wales than any other part of the UK in 2016.
- The Nest and Arbed schemes provide free home energy improvements (such as new boilers) and improved energy efficiency in deprived areas; 45,000 homes have been helped since 2011.
- To achieve carbon emission targets (80% cut by 2050) in the Environment Act 2016, home emissions need to be “close to zero”.