The statistics show that in 2008, 332,000 of households in Wales were estimated to be fuel poor and that this figure had risen by 198,000 since 2004.
The rise represents an increase of 15% points and means that in 2008 26% of Welsh households were estimated to be in fuel poverty. However the statistics also show that positive progress has been made in improving the energy efficiency rating of Welsh homes.
Speaking about the statistics, the Minister said:
“Today’s statistics show that the scale of the challenge we face in tackling fuel poverty here in Wales.
“The Welsh Assembly Government remains committed to protecting the most vulnerable in society and that is why, even in the face of significant budget cuts, we have made the decision to maintain investment in our domestic energy efficiency programme.
“We have of course invested heavily in tackling fuel poverty in Wales in recent years, and have increased our budget for the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES) from £5.1 million in 2001-02 to £22.7 million in 2009-10. However the last few years have seen significant rises in fuel prices, and there is no doubt that has hindered our efforts to tackle this problem.
“Despite the increase in fuel prices, our investment has seen £134 million pounds being spent on ensuring that 124,000 households in Wales are warmer and much more energy efficient.
“I am delighted that despite competing priorities we have been able to maintain our investment in this important area so that we can take forward our work to eradicate fuel poverty in Wales.
“The Assembly Government will continue to do all it can to tackle fuel poverty. We will work with the UK Government to ensure that their decisions take proper account of the need to tackle fuel poverty, and we will continue to push for a fair deal for consumers on energy.”
The statistics published cover fuel poverty, the energy efficiency of dwellings and heating and energy measures in Wales in 2008. Four research reports by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) on fuel poverty in Wales have also been published.
Earlier this year, the Environment Minister launched a new Fuel Poverty Strategy that set out the actions the Assembly Government will take to reduce number of households in Wales that are fuel poor.
Key actions include the establishment of a new, all-Wales Fuel Poverty Scheme to replace the home Energy Efficiency Scheme. The new scheme will focus investment on those that need it most – that is people likely to be vulnerable to fuel poverty and who are living in hard-to-treat properties.
In addition, the Welsh Assembly Government has invested £30m in its strategic energy efficiency programme arbed, to ensure that over 6,000 homes in the most deprived communities in Wales receive home energy improvements.
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