Energy Watch 2

Welsh Lib Dem Mick Bates today called on the Welsh Assembly Government to form an urgent Cabinet task group to tackle fuel poverty.
It is estimated that 340,000 people in Wales will be living in fuel poverty this winter due to rising fuel costs.
Fuel poverty is defined as having to spend more than 10 per cent of household income on fuel.
Mr Bates, the party spokesperson for the environment, has written to the First Minister Rhodri Morgan urging him to form a task group so that ministers in key departments can use monies in their own portfolios to tackle the issue.
He also condemned energy companies on their lack of clarity and clear information on what they spend in Wales to reduce fuel poverty.
Speaking after a Sustainability Committee meeting which heard evidence from npower, Scottish and Southern, British Gas, E.ON, Scottish Power and EDF Energy, Mr Bates said: “It was very difficult to pin down exactly what they are doing to help the thousands of families who live in fuel poverty in Wales – it was like knitting fog.
“Energy companies should be compelled to put some of their huge profits back into insulating the homes of their poorest customers so that people can afford to heat their homes this winter without the worry of high fuel bills.”

Energy Watch 1

Who hasn’t got a story about rising energy costs?
Nobody, I suspect. And with the recent demise of the energywatch consumer watchdog (merged with Postwatch and the National Consumer Council into a body called Consumer Focus) now might be a time to keep a more watchful eye.
The Welsh Tories today revealed that petrol and diesel costs for the Welsh Ambulance Service have risen by more than £1.5m since 2001, a rise of 67 per cent in seven years.
The trust also reported a 120 per cent rise in gas and electricity prices since 2001, adding hundreds of thousands of pounds to annual running costs.
Other NHS trusts have reported similar rises in fuel and energy bills over the same period, according to figures obtained by Clwyd West AM Darren Millar.
Fuel bills for Cardiff and the Vale NHS trust alone have increased by 186 per cent since 2001 while its energy costs have doubled to £6.8m since 2000.
In the last financial year trusts spent £28.5m on gas and electricity for hospitals and other NHS buildings. In a written response to a question from Jonathan Morgan AM, Health Minister Edwina Hart said: “NHS Trust expenditure on energy, ie gas and electricity, was £28.5m in 2007/08. I expect this figure to increase this year in view of current market conditions.”

Meanwhile, as the dust settles on the bank bail-out, general media opinion is that it is good news for bank shareholders and speculators, and those with savings of £50,000…but what about everyone else?
Tax expert Prem Sikka, a professor from the University of Essex, says: “Soon ministers will be telling us that because of the bail-out public finances are to be squeezed and local and central government departments will cut services and jobs. The burden will disproportionately fall on the less well-off. There is a little chance of a bail-out for the 13.2 million people living in poverty, or for 2.1 million pensioners and 3.9 million children living in poverty, or students starting life in debt. When will the government find money for social reform?”

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