NEA Cymru responds to the Wales Audit Office’s report on fuel poverty
Carole Morgan-Jones, Director, National Energy Action Cymru:
“We welcome the Wales Audit Office’s report. Over 150,000 households in Wales are unable to afford to keep themselves warm. Most are vulnerable and are being blighted by the devastating physical and mental effects of fuel poverty. This situation won’t dramatically change until a new, adequately resourced, Welsh Government fuel poverty plan is introduced as a matter of urgency.”
“The Welsh Government should assess the impact of its Warm Homes Programme; both in terms of the sufficiency of investment in energy efficiency improvements, as well as the nature and quality of advice provision for households.“
“The Welsh Government has recently accepted in principle the recommendations from the Decarbonisation of Homes Advisory Group to prioritise the homes of the fuel poor over the next 10 years to EPC Band A as part of its plans to tackle climate change. We want the Welsh Government to progress this recommendation as soon as possible.”
“We are also calling on the Welsh Government to back NEA’s call, and those of many others, for energy efficiency to be made a national infrastructure priority. This can help unlock the necessary UK funding to achieve the EPC Band A target and the Welsh Government’s net zero ambitions to ensure that decarbonising domestic homes is done in a fair and equitable way”.
“We need to ensure that households get the best out of the home improvements and are also assisted to access wider income support and other ways to save money on their energy bills”.
Notes for editors:
- For press enquiries please contact carole.morgan-Jones@nea.org.uk Tel 02920 229322.
- NEA is the UK’s leading fuel poverty charity and works across Wales, England, and Northern Ireland to ensure that everyone in the UK can afford to live in a warm, dry home. To achieve this, we aim to improve access to energy and debt advice, provide training, support energy efficiency policies, local projects and co-ordinate other related services which can help change lives. For more information about NEA visit nea.org.uk.
- In Wales, fuel poverty is defined as the need to spend over 10% of household income on fuel costs to maintain adequate warmth for health and comfort. The latest estimated figures show that 155,000 households in Wales were living in fuel poverty in 2018, equivalent to 12% of all households and 32,000 households were living in severe fuel poverty, equivalent to 2% of households. See: https://gov.wales/fuel-poverty-estimates-wales-headline-results-2018
- Fuel poverty results from a combination of factors: low household income; unaffordable energy prices; and inadequate heating and insulation standards. The consequences of fuel poverty range from psychological distress, social isolation and physical discomfort to causing or exacerbating serious illness and, in the most extreme cases, to premature death.
- The Wales Audit Office report can be found at https://www.audit.wales/news/fewer-households-fuel-poverty-welsh-government-misses-targets. It recommends:
- The Welsh Government should explore and articulate a long-term financial and carbon analysis of the costs, benefits and trade-offs of prioritising fuel poor households as part of its wider plans for decarbonising homes.
- The Welsh Government, working with partners, should more clearly articulate how fuel poverty schemes should link up locally to other work to tackle the underlying causes that led individuals and communities to be vulnerable to experiencing fuel poverty.
- The Welsh Government should reflect, in light of the views expressed to us, on its approach to involving and engaging with stakeholders, including exploring whether any formal mechanisms for regular involvement and engagement with stakeholders need to be put in place.
- In setting future budgets for the Warm Homes programme, the Welsh Government should take a broad view, in line with the ways of working under the Well-being of Future Generations Act, on how fuel poverty schemes could: prevent future costs in other service areas; and contribute to wider policy goals, including the 80% reduction in carbon from housing by 2050.
- The Welsh Government should clearly set out whether, and if so how, it will support fuel poor households who are not eligible for Nest and do not live in an area covered by Arbed.
- The Welsh Government should clearly set out how it will support those in severe fuel poverty, as they are potentially less likely to be engaged with services.
- The Welsh Government should fully explore the reasons behind the underspend in Arbed and if there are fundamental issues with the area-based approach which mean this situation is likely to continue, the Welsh Government should look at options for changing the funding balance between Nest and Arbed.