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Crisis in the cold: People in Wales at risk of fuel poverty this winter

18 December 2020

Crisis in the cold: People in Wales at risk of fuel poverty this winter  [ 1.5 mb]

Many households in Wales have seen their finances hit hard by the coronavirus crisis. For families who have lost jobs or seen their income reduced, keeping up with day to day costs has become a struggle.

Our Coronavirus Debts [ 1.2 mb] report, estimates that more than 66,000 households in Wales have fallen behind on their energy bills since the start of the pandemic.1

The coronavirus crisis has contributed to this in a number of ways: 

  • Living on a reduced income has left some households unable to meet their regular bills for the first time. For others it may have exacerbated existing debts. As a result of this some people risk falling into fuel poverty- unable to afford sufficient energy.

  • Whilst households might normally use less energy during the summer and autumn months, spending more time at home this year may have increased bills all year long, reducing financial resilience for the winter.2 

  • For those with inefficient homes, spending more time at home may have further contributed to higher energy bills.

People struggling with energy costs face a difficult choice. Some may decide to cut back or go without heating or using household appliances. People with prepay meters are at risk of self-disconnecting if they can't afford to top up, although new Ofgem rules should mean vulnerable customers are given temporary support if this happens. People on credit meters may fall into debt which they'll need to pay back over a long period, and risk moving to prepayment if they don't keep up with repayments.

People in Wales are having to spend more time at home this winter, so making sure people can afford to stay warm, safe and well, is more important than ever.