'Warm Homes' needed to combat fuel poverty epidemic

November 24, 2006 4:23 PM

Today, Jenny Willott MP visited one of Cardiff Central's formerly fuel poor residents as part of the 'Warm Homes Campaign' organised by the charity National Energy Action and Powergen and supported by Eaga Wales, who manage the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Commenting she said:

"Wales is facing a fuel poverty epidemic. With gas price rises and the poor energy efficiency of houses in Wales, the number of fuel poor Welsh households has more than doubled over the last two years to 300,000.

"Around 600,000 people in Wales will struggle to pay their energy bills this winter. This is one of Labour's greatest failures. The Westminster Government hardly mentioned fuel poverty in their recent energy review and the Assembly Government's target of eradicating fuel poverty in Wales by 2010 looks ridiculous.

"The Warm Homes campaign however, is doing some fantastic work across Wales to raise awareness of this problem, show how energy efficient measures can make massive cuts in people's energy bills and promote the grants that are available to them.

"Here in Cardiff, last year there were 50 more deaths in winter than the summer, partly because people could not afford to heat their homes properly. The Warm Homes campaign is doing vital work to combat this problem and I;m glad that the Assembly has increased their level of support. But far more needs to be done to eradicate fuel poverty.

"It is utterly absurd that houses in Wales are still being built to relatively low energy efficient levels. Wales needs to have the power to set its own standards for housing with highly energy efficient designs and microgeneration units in place so the residents can benefit from cheap and clean energy generated on site."

Nuria Zolle, NEA Wales Director, said:

"Anyone who is worried about their winter fuel bill should call the Home Heat helpline on 0800 336699 for information and advice on keeping warm in winter. Or for more information about grants to help keep your home warm, call freephone 0800 3162815."

Hayley Wildmore, Director Wales Eaga Partnership, said:

"We are very happy to have Jenny Willott supporting the work we are doing to address Fuel Poverty in Wales. We are pleased to announce that the Welsh Assembly has recently increased the financial value of the grants available to HEES customers to £3,600. For further details please visit http://www.eagagroup.com/grants/"

Ends/diwedd

Notes to editor:

Fuel poverty occurs when a household needs to spend 10% or more of its income on fuel to maintain satisfactory heating and other energy services. Any household spending 20% or more is deemed to be in severe fuel poverty.

Jenny Willott is one of 45 MPs, Members of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly Members around the country supporting the Warm Homes Campaign by visiting constituents to learn first hand how energy efficiency measures can provide affordable warmth this winter.

There were 50 excess winter deaths linked to cold homes last year in Cardiff Central. The UK average for excess winter deaths over the last 5 years is 40.

The average SAP rating (energy efficiency rating) for houses in Wales is 41. The Government argues that an SAP rating of 65 would guarantee affordable warmth while one under 35 represents a health hazard under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

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