The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black, has highlighted figures released by the Government on fuel poverty at a local ward level, which underline its link to poor private sector housing and deprivation.
The figures, which were originally due to be released in 2007 and had been delayed several times, show that there are a number of communities in Neath, Port Talbot, Bridgend and Swansea, where over a fifth of households are classed as fuel-poor.
The figures show that parts of Morriston, Landore, Uplands, Castle and St Thomas wards in Swansea, parts of Gwynfi, Aberavon and Port Talbot wards in Neath Port Talbot and Nantymoel, Pontycymer and Maesteg East wards in Bridgend are the worst areas, all with at least 20% of households estimated as living in fuel poverty.
Fuel poverty is defined as having to spend more than 10% of your income on heating your home. The Welsh Assembly Government run Home Energy Efficiency Scheme is designed to help those living in fuel poverty, but in reality only 29% of people benefiting from the scheme are actually living in fuel poverty. Local level fuel poverty statistics for England were released in 2003.
“These figures have come out in Wales six years later than in England” said Mr Black. “They are also two years later than Ministers promised. As a result a huge amount of money that could have been spent on this problem has been misdirected. In particular these statistics identify a clear case for a national home insulation programme for Welsh privately owned homes. It also underlines the case to reform the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme, which in 2006 was identified as not fit for purpose but has not yet been changed. A review is still on-going.
“The Home Energy Efficiency Scheme is oversubscribed and many people who need help are unable to get it. This report must be used to focus the attention on helping those who are living in real fuel poverty.”