Government Cuts £5.3m From Fight Against Fuel Poverty

September 8, 2006 12:00 AM

Energy-saving light bulb.Jenny Willott, Welsh Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, learnt today that the Government plans effectively to cut £5.3m of funding from a series of vital programmes to help combat fuel poverty.

The loss of funding is a result of the Government's decision to reverse a VAT exemption on expenditure by the Energy Savings Trust. The Trust funds projects and programmes across the UK to provide information, grants and advice on how people can improve their energy efficiency and reduce energy bills.

Commenting, Jenny said:

"This is a shameful and hypocritical move by the Government. Having just published an energy review stressing the importance of energy efficiency in combating climate change and eradicating fuel poverty, the Government is now cutting back on the services that are designed to do exactly this.

"These cuts will hit Wales particularly hard. As a result of soaring energy prices, this winter average annual Welsh household energy bills will be over £1,000 for the first time ever! This is likely to push 260,000 households in Wales into fuel poverty. We need the Energy Savings Trust more than ever.

"We are now in an era of permanently high and increasing energy prices which is giving rise to a mounting social crisis. This winter, a young, single, pregnant woman in Wales on income support, will spend on average 42% of her disposable income on energy bills.

"At the same time, only 8% of all households have taken advantage of energy efficiency grants to upgrade their properties. We should be encouraging and providing incentives for as many people as possible to upgrade their homes and reduce their energy bills as matter of urgency.

"The funding decrease will mean that 1 million tonnes of carbon emissions that would have been reduced will now be emitted from people's homes across the UK.

"I am writing to the Treasury to find out exactly how these cuts will affect Wales, and will be urging the Government to reverse this decision."

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