More than one in three people in Gwynedd are living in homes struggling to pay the heating bills, which can have serious and detrimental effect on health, wellbeing and social mobility.
A conference about fuel poverty was held at Gwynedd Council recently where delegates heard how the Council and its partners are working hard to help people who are suffering.
Households where more than 10% of income is spent on fuel to achieve an adequate level of warmth are classed as living in fuel poverty.
People on low incomes, older people, young families and people with disabilities are most likely to suffer. The problem is more acute in areas such as Gwynedd where fewer than half of homes have access to mains gas and a high percentage of houses are old and poorly insulated.
It is expected that more people may suffer from the effects of fuel poverty as the price of fuel continues to increase. In fact, between April 2003 and September 2008 the price of gas has increased by 79.5% and electricity has gone up by 62%.
Speakers at the conference included Helen Roach from National Energy Action; Adrian Roberts, Gwynedd Council’s Strategic Housing Policy Officer; Dewi Llwyd of Cymdeithas Tai Eryri and Rhian Huws of the Wales Cooperative.
Delegates heard about the different schemes that Gwynedd Council and its partners have been involved in to help eradicate the problem:
Here to Help – by working in partnership with British Gas, the Council has been able to help nearly 10,000 families to improve insulation, since the scheme started in 2004.
HEES/HEES+ – around 6,000 homes have benefitted from this project which offers insulation and heating measures.
ARBED project – Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd, Cymdeithas Tai Eryri and North Wales Housing have run this scheme in Gwynedd which invests in insulation and renewable energy for social housing.
Councillor Peter Read, chair of the Gwynedd Council Care Scrutiny Committee, said: “Living in a warm and comfortable home should not be a luxury afforded to just some in society.
“It is frightening to hear that in this day and age around 38% of homes experience fuel poverty. This means that during the winter, especially if we experience extremely cold weather as we did in 2010/11, some people have to choose between putting the heating on and spending their money on other essentials such as food.
“Living in a house which is not adequately heated can have a serious affect on a person’s health, especially if a person already suffers from chronic illnesses or is frail. Children who live in homes suffering from fuel poverty often struggle with their academic work – if the family can only afford to heat one or two rooms they often have nowhere quiet to revise or do their homework.”
There are several groups and agencies which can offer help and advice for people who want to reduce their fuel costs. For more information contact:
Energy Saving Trust www.energysavingtrust.org.uk
North Wales Energy Advice Centre www.ecocentre.org.uk
National Energy Action Cymru www.nea.org.uk