Town and Community Councils across Wales given new advice to help residents in fuel poverty

13 March 2015

Fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) Cymru has today issued guidance to town and community councils across Wales to help them address local issues relating to heating and energy bills.

The guidance has been developed as part of a project funded by Calor to focus on new ways to reduce rural fuel poverty in Wales.Households in rural Wales are twice as likely to be in fuel poverty as households in urban Wales.

NEA Cymru has worked with Abergwili Community Council in Carmarthenshire over the last year to support them to develop a localised approach to helping residents who are struggling with their energy bills.Abergwili has fuel poverty levels above the national average and no homes in the area have access to mains gas for heating.NEA has now used their experiences of working with Abergwili Community Council to develop recommendations for other town and community councils in Wales to help them address local rural fuel poverty.The guidance also contains recommendations for other organisations who may be considering approaching their local town and community councils to work with them to tackle high energy bills.

In Abergwili, community councillors wanted to find out the issues that local residents had with heating their homes and paying energy bills so asked NEA Cymru to put together a survey they could take from door to door.NEA also analysed the questionnaire responses to decide what further action the council could take, provided free training for community councillors and other community members on affordable warmth and provided a bilingual information leaflet for Abergwili residents with advice on reducing energy bills.The community council are now considering NEA’s analysis of the questionnaire responses to decide what further action to take forward.

Carole Morgan-Jones, Director of NEA Cymru, said, “People who live in rural parts of Wales are twice as likely to struggle to affordably heat their homes as those who live in urban areas so we are always looking for new ways to reach these households.We are really glad that, with Calor’s support, we’ve been able to work in Abergwili to help us understand the opportunities and challenges available for town and community councils across Wales to address rural fuel poverty.We also appreciate the support of One Voice Wales in helping us reach town and community councils and share these findings with them.”

Lyn Cadwallader, Chief Executive of One Voice Wales, the umbrella body for town and community councils in Wales, said “One Voice Wales welcomes the findings of the pilot study on tackling rural poverty undertaken by NEA Cymru and Abergwili Community Council. The report will have much relevance to other community councils and offers good guidance to rural towns and community councils on how they could take forward local action on fuel poverty. Furthermore, it shows the valuable role community and town councils can play in addressing rural fuel poverty in times of financial austerity.”

Holly Sims, Corporate Affairs Manager, Calor, said, “We have been delighted to partner with NEA and Abergwili Community Council on this project to identify the specific energy issues that rural households are facing. We hope that by sharing the findings from the report, communities and councils across rural Wales will be able to work together to tackle fuel poverty and take action to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.”

Editor Notes

1.NEA is the UK’s leading fuel poverty charity campaigning for affordable warmth in the homes of vulnerable people. For further details visit http://www.nea.org.uk

2.This project marked the fifth year of Calor’s work with NEA Cymru.More information on our partnership with Calor is available here: http://www.nea.org.uk/nea-wales/wales-projects/current-projects/calor-prorgamme

3.The Living in Wales survey 2008 showed that 42 per cent of rural households in Wales were in fuel poverty compared to 22 per cent of urban households.The number of households in fuel poverty has risen since 2008, although no more recent comparison of urban to rural households has been made.

4.Fuel poverty is defined as the need to spend more than 10% of household income on energy costs to achieve an adequate level of warmth.

5.Since 1935 Calor has been providing rural Wales with clean, efficient and modern energy solutions. Calor supports efforts to tackle fuel poverty and climate change and wants rural property owners to have the same opportunity to reduce their carbon emissions and fuel costs as exists in on-grid areas.

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