We’re Speaking up for Older People in Fuel Poverty

Care & Repair is calling on the Welsh Government to improve their Warm Homes Programme, and better support older people.

What is Fuel Poverty?

A household in Wales is in fuel poverty if they spend 10% or more of their household income on their energy bills. On 1 April, the energy price cap went up, meaning heating your home has become more expensive than ever.

Before the pandemic, 155,000 households in Wales were living in fuel poverty. Now, since bills have gone up, it is estimated that 45% (614,000) of all Welsh households could be in fuel poverty.

What is the Warm Homes Programme?

Wales has a Fuel Poverty Plan which aims to reduce the number of households living in fuel poverty in Wales to 5% by 2035 – equivalent to just under 70,000 households.

As part of this plan, the Welsh Government has the Warm Homes Programme. The programme funds improvements to homes to increase their energy efficiency. This might include a new boiler, better insulation or heating system repairs.

There is now a review happening of the Warm Homes Programme, and Care & Repair are advocating for better support for households living in or at risk of fuel poverty in Wales.

What is Care & Repair Cymru asking the Welsh Government to do?

Here at Care & Repair Cymru we are calling for Welsh Government to ensure:

  • The next version of the Warm Homes Programme helps households living in the severest fuel poverty first
  • That measures to improve thermal efficiency and tackle fuel poverty take a whole person, whole house approach to meet individual needs
  • That first and foremost, measures taken in a home tackle fuel poverty as urgently as possible before moving to decarbonise
  • That advice and support is available across Wales to help households understand what they can do to use less energy, and are fully supported to use any new technology that might be put in their home

What policies are Care & Repair Cymru asking to change?

From our experience with the current Warm Homes Programme, there are a few very specific policies we are asking to be changed:

Remove the £16,000 savings cap for people aged 75 and over.

  • At the moment, it only matters if you have savings if you are aged over 75. That means someone aged 74 can get help even if they have savings, but someone born just months before them can’t. We think this is discriminatory – it shouldn’t be that the older you get the less help you can get.

Stop counting disability benefits as income.

  • Attendance allowance and Personal Independence Payments are counted as household income under the current scheme. At Care & Repair Cymru, we believe that benefits awarded to people living with disabilities to cover the extra costs they might incur should not count towards means-tested household income. This is not equality. People living with severe conditions receive more of these benefits – this means at the moment, the more severe your condition, the higher your household income, and the less likely to be eligible for the Warm Homes Programme. We think this shouldn’t be the case.

Extend the health conditions eligibility of any programmes.

  • Under Nest, living with certain health conditions result in eligibility for help: respiratory or cardiovascular disease, or living with mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression or anxiety. We believe this should be extended to other health conditions that are made worse by the cold, including arthritis.