- Posted by: Mike Hedges MS
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MIKE HEDGES MS WELCOMES WELSH GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR PEOPLE AFFECTED BY FUEL POVERTY AND PRAISES ENERGY SCHEME IN SWANSEA EAST CONSTITUENCY.
Speaking from his Senedd office after the Minister’s statement, local Swansea East MS Mike Hedges said… ‘I welcome the support for families and individuals in fuel poverty provided by the Welsh Government. Fuel poverty can quickly lead to health problems which exacerbate people’s difficulties. Fuel poverty needs interventions at every level and I welcome the lead provided by the Welsh Government.
I am pleased that the Minister gave an explanation about the Pobl scheme in Blaenymaes in my constituency. It is a marvellous scheme which shows how modern technology can make big differences to the lives of people in social housing schemes.
It is a scheme which I will be replicated by other housing providers across Wales.
I very much welcome the statement by the Minister. I agree with the Minister that the cost-of-living crisis is, in a large part, driven by energy prices, as increases are affecting the price of not just gas and electric but many other consumables. Whilst this is having a detrimental effect on all of our living standards, it’s having a devastating effect on households who are least able to pay, driving families through ‘just surviving’ into fuel poverty. I am pleased that the Welsh Government’s focus will continue to be on supporting lower income families who are in fuel poverty, to reduce their bills and carbon emissions. I agree that decarbonisation, improving the energy efficiency of homes in Wales across all tenures, and how it is going to be funded is obviously complex. In Swansea East, as the Minister knows, there are a large number of retired people living in poor energy-efficient homes that they own. Will the Welsh Government consider ending the Help to Buy scheme, which has the effect of inflating house prices, and use that money to provide loans to owner-occupiers and private landlords to improve energy efficiency? And would the Minister like to comment on the Pobl scheme in my constituency?174
Just on that last one: it’s a great scheme, isn’t it? So, the kind of collective action that you get when you’re able to implement the sorts of collective energy efficiency schemes that you get in that instance is an example, and we’re hoping to roll that model out. So, for Members who aren’t familiar with it, we’ve got a new estate and an old estate coming together with an energy-efficiency scheme that allows those with the ability to put good solar panels on their homes to share their energy out across the scheme, to provide EV charging points, and all the rest of it; it allows Economy 7 to work for white goods across the scheme. There’s a whole series of things that you can do with the collective power of coming together, basically. So, it’s a great scheme. I’ve managed to visit it a couple of times, and we will be looking to roll that out with the companies that have been involved in that—with the social landlord company and the energy companies that have been working with us. So, that’s a really excellent example of what can be achieved.175
Just in terms of the Help to Buy, that’s a bit more complicated than that. We use Help to Buy to drive other improvements in the building industry. So, actually, builders who don’t build to particular standards don’t get Help to Buy, and that’s been very helpful in driving some of those standards. We also use financial transactions capital, which, Mike, I know you’re familiar with, but it is an arcane art, so it’s not quite as easy to swap that out into individual householder loans. We are though looking, with the Development Bank of Wales, at rolling out grant and loan schemes to owner-occupiers in exactly the circumstances that you’re talking about and, actually, being able to target people who get the single-occupier discount, who are often older people who’ve lost a partner and are in that exact position. So, we have a way to identify people, so that we can consult on it. So, we are looking to do exactly that.