Welsh Government
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Major shake-up in fuel poverty support for Wales announced

A major shake-up in the way the Welsh Assembly Government provides support for those in fuel poverty was announced by Environment Minister Jane Davidson today as part of new plans to make Wales more energy efficient.

The National Energy Efficiency and Savings Plan aims to reduce Wales’s greenhouse gas emissions by making all parts of Welsh society more energy efficient. This means helping people to save energy and cut costs at home, working with communities, and supporting the public sector and business to become more energy efficient.

The plan includes:

  • New rules for the home energy efficiency scheme
  • Better, joined up, advice for members of the public on where to get help
  • Support for small businesses to become more energy efficient
  • Helping credit unions provide low cost loans for energy efficiency
  • No more public investment in high carbon home heating

Launching the proposals, Ms Davidson said:

As a government we have made a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in devolved areas by 3% a year from 2011. Saving energy will help us achieve this. Importantly it also means saving money. We want to help householders in Wales who are struggling with their energy bills to save energy and money and be better able to manage the cost of heating their homes now and in the future. We also want to help businesses and the public sector cut their costs.

A key part of the policy is changes to the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES) so that it helps the people who need it most. The scheme currently only provides grants for heating and insulation improvements. The Assembly Government is proposing to direct more help to people who are on a means tested benefit and live in a property that doesn’t have very good energy efficiency at the moment. For example, older people on pension credit living in an old property off the gas network or a family on income support living in a 1950s property that hasn’t been improved.

Commenting on the changes, Ms Davidson said:

HEES has a good record. Since 2000 we have spent £100 million to help 100,000 Welsh households save money on their heating bills. But I want us to be more effective. This scheme was set up at a time when incomes were stable and rising while energy prices were falling. Now we have the reverse. We need to target the people who most need help, while also ensuring a range of support mechanisms are in place to make sure the most vulnerable do not slip through the net.

The Welsh Assembly Government provides nearly £23 million a year for HEES.

The plan also aims to ensure that no matter which advice or support service a person calls as their first point of call, they will be offered a full range of advice. HEES is not the only source of help. Support is available from energy companies, the Energy Saving Trust and other bodies. There are also proposals for closer work with credit unions to help them offer low interest loans specifically for energy efficiency measures.

16 March 2009

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