Plans to further tackle fuel poverty in Wales by 2035 and support people struggling to meet the cost of their domestic energy needs have today been published for consultation.
Over the last 17 years, the Welsh Government’s ‘Home Energy Efficiency Scheme’ and more recently, the ‘Warm Homes Programme’ has provided free advice and home energy efficiency improvements to thousands of homes across Wales.
Since 2008, estimated levels of fuel poverty have more than halved, lifting around 177,000 households out of fuel poverty. 11% of vulnerable households across Wales.
The consultation, which is open until 31 December, sets out new plans for reducing fuel poverty further by 2035.
The plan, which subject to the outcome of the public consultation, is expected to be published no later than the end of February 2021, includes ten immediate actions which will have the biggest impact between now and 2023. One of the key proposals will see the continuation of investment to deliver home energy efficiency improvements through the Warm Homes Programme.
Since 2011, investment of £366m delivered through the Warm Homes Programme (up to March 2020), has improved the energy efficiency of more than 61,400 homes and provided advice and support to more than 144,800 people. The Warm Homes Programme also contributes to the wider goal of housing decarbonisation to fulfil our net zero obligations by 2050.
Other immediate actions in the plan include:
A consultation on proposals for revisions to the eligibility criteria for support, including health conditions and lower incomes and the level of support available, especially for rural communities;
· Consult on Domestic Energy Advice and Support Services to help people save money and reduce energy use;
· Prepare a plan to improve winter resilience for people struggling to meet the cost of their domestic fuel needs and at risk of avoidable ill health or premature death from living in a cold home;
· Publish Welsh domestic energy data annually to help focus on communities at greatest risk of living in fuel poverty; and
· Publish a biennial review of performance towards 2035 objectives and publication of fuel poverty estimates for Wales.
· The plan includes targets to measure the objective of ensuring people in Wales, as far as reasonably practicable, are not living in fuel poverty by 2035. This will have been achieved if:
· No households are estimated to be living in severe or persistent fuel poverty;
· No more than 5% of households are estimated to be living in fuel poverty at any one time; and
· The number of households “at risk” of falling into fuel poverty will be more than halved based on the 2018 estimate.
Launching the consultation, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said:
“Whilst the estimated level of people in fuel poverty has halved since 2008, we cannot ignore the fact 155,000 homes continue to struggle to afford a safe and comfortable home environment.
The global Covid19 pandemic means our homes have assumed a more prominent role in our daily lives, increasing the energy we use. This is set to continue, with the prospect of higher bills as we enter autumn and winter.
However, the Welsh Government cannot tackle this challenge on its own. The UK Government holds many of the key powers to effect change and we will continue to use our influence to shape their actions and policies
Our new plan will make a key contribution to our efforts to tackle poverty in all its forms, especially for children, young people, older people and disabled people. Continuing to invest in our support to people living on lower incomes to improve the energy efficiency of their homes will help with our efforts to decarbonise Welsh housing as part of our efforts to respond to the challenges resulting from Climate Change.
I urge everyone interested in helping us further tackle fuel poverty to get involved in the consultation and share your views with us.”