A GROUP of councillors has called for action as the cost-of-living crisis deepens and winter bills hit families in Wrexham.
Plaid Cymru council group leader Marc Jones has written to Wrexham Council’s chief executive and leader on behalf of the group, asking for a range of measures to be implemented to help residents cope with rising food, fuel and energy bills.
Cllr Jones said: “On Friday, it’s likely that the energy price cap will be raised even further and that will mean energy bills soaring for many households. The responsibility for dealing with that lies in Westminster but as local councillors we want to help people as much as possible to cope with this difficult situation.
“There are practical steps that can be taken – Conwy and Gwynedd Councils have announced a number of interventions to make sure people are able to stay warm this winter and also provide support for organisations such as Citizens’ Advice to help advise people.
“It’s estimated that two-thirds of households in Wales will be in fuel poverty this winter if bills increase as expected. That’s completely unacceptable in a country with a wealth of renewable energy.
“But the immediate issue is ensuring nobody goes cold or hungry this winter. We’re calling on the council to ensure there are community hubs available throughout the borough to support individuals with income and debt problems and those who need access to food and a warm space when the weather turns colder.”
Cllr Jones added: “Gwynedd is providing financial support for Citizens’ Advice – an invaluable service – and Wrexham Council needs to consider how best to make sure people are able to get the right advice locally. Conwy Council is also providing more cash support for local food banks because they are being hit with the double whammy of fewer people donating and more people needing their services.
“We’re also calling for more energy-efficient housing – whether new or retro-fitted – so that households are consuming less and spending less on energy bills. There are a range of measures that can help people deal with the coming winter crisis and I hope that all councillors can support a range of urgent measures in the next few weeks.”
Cllr Jones also said local businesses, schools and other public bodies would face problems with surging energy bills:
“Small businesses, especially those that use a lot of energy, are going to face a surge in prices for gas and electricity”, he said.
“Many are still recovering from the impact of Covid and the local economy is still very fragile. The UK Government has to provide better support for businesses or we’ll see reduced consumer demand and more empty shops.
“Equally, schools and other public services are going to be hard pressed to meet rising costs. We’re asking the council to consider a wide range of measures to ensure they get the support they need this winter.”
Responding to the group’s concerns, Councillor David A Bithell, Deputy Leader of Wrexham Council, said: “These are very difficult times for everyone – energy prices are putting real pressure on families, businesses and organisations, and people are deeply worried.
“We’re continually monitoring the situation, and we’re already looking at ways we can support local people through the cost of living crisis.
“The cost of energy is a national and global issue, and we’ll do everything we can to work with partners – including Welsh Government – to support our communities this winter, and help people get through this difficult period.
“The council is committed to considering a range of measures to support local people and communities, so they can get the help and support they need.”