December 19, 2006 1:49 PM

Commenting on today's new report from the Welsh Consumer Council entitled, "Debt and Utility Bills", Jenny Willott MP said:

"This report confirms what we already knew. Energy bills have risen so fast in recent years that more and more people in Wales are finding it very difficult to pay them.

"The latest estimate for average annual household energy bills is over £1,000 and rising. This will push 300,000 households in Wales to live in fuel poverty this winter - that's one in four households in Wales and more than double the number in 2004.

"Clearly, fuel poverty is no longer exclusive to low income and pensioner households; it has spread to middle income earners and other vulnerable groups in Wales.

"The best way to reduce energy bills is by improving energy efficiency in the home. But despite new regulations the Government has set to improve the energy efficiency of new Welsh homes, they have not enforced them.

"As a result, around 25,000 new homes built in Wales over the last 10 years are likely to be illegally wasting energy. If the Government had enforced its own rules, these households could have seen their energy bills significantly reduced.

"The Government must establish a complete package of measures to combat the rapid rise of fuel poverty in Wales. This means increasing and enforcing higher energy efficient building standards in Wales, introducing smart meters and microgeneration units into the Welsh housing stock, reducing VAT on energy efficient products, and encouraging people to use some of their winter fuel payments for improving household energy efficiency."

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