How is Fuel Poverty defined in Wales?
A household is regarded as being in fuel poverty if they are unable to keep their home warm at a reasonable cost. This is measured as any household needing to pay more than 10% of their full household income to maintain a satisfactory heating regime. Households needing to pay more than 20% of their full household income to maintain a satisfactory heating regime are defined as being in severe fuel poverty.
How many people in Wales are in Fuel Poverty?
According to the Welsh Government’s latest estimates, up to 45% (614,000) of all households in Wales were in fuel poverty, following the price cap increase of April 2022.
Up to 8% (115,000) of Welsh households were estimated to be in severe fuel poverty. Furthermore, 98% (217,700) of all Wales’ lower-income households were estimated to be in fuel poverty at that time, with up to 41% (91,700) of those thought to be in severe fuel poverty.
Unlike England’s fuel poverty figures, these figures do take into account the price cap rise on 1 April 2022 when the average dual fuel, direct debit bill increased from £1,277 a year to £1,971.
The Welsh Government has not updated these figures since April 2022, so we don’t yet know the impact of October’s average annual increase to £2,500.
These latest modelled projections were not broken down to local authority level.
, The latest local authority estimates in Wales date back to 2018 and can be found here.
What is the Welsh Government doing to tackle Fuel Poverty?
The Welsh Government published its latest Tackling Fuel Poverty Plan in March 2021. The full plan can be read here.
The plan includes three, non-statutory fuel poverty targets, alongside a series of actions. The targets are that 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.
What support is the Welsh Government providing?
In Wales, the Welsh Government is continuing to provide an expanded package of targeted support to help tackle the crisis.
This includes an expanded £200 Welsh Fuel Support Scheme payment to help towards energy bills, regardless of how households pay for their energy and whether they use on-grid or off-grid fuels. Eligible households need to claim this via their local council between 26 September 2022 and 28 February 2023. It is available to households in receipt of one of numerous qualifying benefits, including Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, and related legacy benefits, as well as child tax credits, pension credits, disability benefits, carer’s allowance, contributory benefits, or those receiving help via the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
A Wales-wide Fuel Voucher Scheme to help households in crisis who must pay for their energy in advance (on or off-grid fuels) has also been made available in partnership with the Fuel Bank Foundation. Households can contact Advicelink Cymru on 0800 702 2020 to find out more.
Households in financial hardship can also continue to apply for emergency assistance payments under the Welsh Government’s Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF). This includes help to top-up gas and electricity prepayment meters, oil and LPG. Visit gov.wales/discretionary-assistance-fund-daf for more details.
The Welsh Government’s Nest scheme also aims to help make fuel poor homes warmer and more energy efficient. It offers a range of free, impartial advice and, if you are eligible, a package of free home energy efficiency improvements such as a new boiler, central heating, insulation, or solar panels. Visit nest.gov.wales to find out more.
For more go to www.nea.org.uk/energy-crisis