Wales unveils fuel poverty plan

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The Welsh Government have set three new targets to address fuel poverty in Wales to meet its obligations under the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000.

By 2035:

  • No households are estimated to be living in severe or persistent fuel poverty as far as ‘reasonably practicable.’
  • Not more than 5% of households are estimated to be living in fuel poverty at any one time as far as ‘reasonably practicable.’
  • The number of all households “at risk” of falling into fuel poverty will be more than halved based on the 2018 estimate.

These targets will be used to determine how successful the Welsh Government has been at achieving the statutory objective.

Besides the targets the plan introduces ten short term priority actions, set to be delivered by the Welsh Government in partnership with key stakeholders over the next two years.

A review of the actions will be undertaken as part of the Welsh Government’s biennial review and report on fuel poverty, with the first review in 2023.

An estimated 144,504 households are at risk of being in fuel poverty in Wales according to the Welsh Government, spending between 8% and 10% of their household income on fuel costs. This is equivalent to 11% of households in Wales.

Severe fuel poverty is defined by the Welsh Government as a household needing to pay more than 20% of their full household income to maintain a satisfactory heating regime.

At risk of fuel poverty means a household needing to pay more than 8%, but less than 10% of their full household income to maintain a satisfactory heating regime.

Persistent fuel poverty is when a household needs to pay more than 10% of their full household income to maintain a satisfactory heating regime in two out of the three preceding years.

Analysis by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit earlier in the pandemic predicted that families in cold, energy inefficient homes would face heating bills elevated on average to £124 per month this winter, compared with £76 for those in well-insulated homes

Despite welcoming many of the proposed short-term actions, National Energy Action (NEA), a national fuel poverty charity, has expressed their concerns over the announcement.

Ben Saltmarsh, Head of NEA Cymru, commented: “Several years after the previous targets to eradicate the scourge of cold homes in Wales were missed, fuel poverty continues to be a devastating problem.

“Over 150,000 households cannot afford to heat and power their homes and COVID-19 has made this challenge even starker, with many people at home using more energy, owing more and earning less.

“While NEA welcomes a number of planned short-term actions announce, we are very concerned that the Plan doesn’t go nearly far enough. Thousands of the poorest people living in the most expensive to heat homes could be left out in the cold for years to come.”

‘Tackling fuel poverty 2021 to 2035’ can be found from the Welsh Government website.