Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds has today urged the Welsh Labour Government to put a rocket under a support scheme for households in fuel poverty after new analysis revealed that just a small percentage of households have benefited from support and that it could take the Welsh Government 135 years to insulate every fuel poor household.
Launched in 2011, the Welsh Government Warm Homes (known as Nest) was designed to provide funding for energy efficiency improvements to low-income households and those living in deprived communities across Wales.
The Welsh Government’s own estimates suggest that as of April 2022, 614,000 households are in fuel poverty including 115,000 in extreme fuel poverty.
A Welsh Liberal Democrat analysis of the Nest schemes annual statements has now revealed that that the number of households receiving support under the scheme, has declined from 5,500 in 2016/17 to 4,559 in 2020/21. At the 2016/17 rate it would take 111.6 years to insulate every household. At the 2020/21 rate it would take 134.7 years.
A further analysis of the figures showed that of those benefitting from home improvements from the scheme in 2020/21, almost 50% were described as not living in fuel poverty, suggesting the scheme is not being targeted effectively.
Responding to the low figures, Jane Dodds MS said:
“Only a tiny fraction of the number of households who are struggling with their fuel bills have been supported by this government. If the current rate of progress is maintained it will take the Welsh Labour Government 135 years to insulate every household that is in fuel poverty.
“The snail’s pace this scheme has advanced at illustrates the Labour’s frightening incompetence when it comes to tackling fuel poverty across Wales, and how their inaction has left Wales extremely vulnerable to the latest price rises.
“Bills will continue to soar and families will continue to suffer unless more support is made available to those in need. Cutting energy bills through improving energy efficiency will not only lessen the burden on household finances, it will be good for the planet and bad for Vladimir Putin too. The Government need to put a rocket under the Welsh Government Warm Homes scheme.
“Unlike Labour, the Welsh Liberal Democrats are focused on delivering robust and practical solutions. That means implementing an emergency nationwide home insulation programme and introducing green upgrades to homes.
“We are also pressing the UK government to cancel this year’s energy price rise, introduce a windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas producers and help households to weather the crisis.”