Plaid Cymru MS Sioned Williams today repeated her calls on the Welsh Government to "take action" on fuel poverty.
Speaking on a Senedd motion calling on the Welsh Government "to roll out an in-home energy advice service across Wales to ensure all households can access the support and advice they need", Sioned Williams raised the need to devolve powers over the distribution and supply of gas and electricity, and consumer rights, to Wales.
Plaid spokesperson on Social Justice and Equalities, Sioned Williams, said:
"While fully supporting the motion's contention that it is a national scandal that 600,000 people were forced onto prepayment meters because they could not afford their energy bills, I would point out that, while the distribution and supply of gas and electricity and consumer protection are reserved matters, we will never be able to be fully confident that we can protect our citizens from this type of damaging and shameful action, until powers over these matters are devolved to Wales.
"The present temporary ban on forced installation of prepayment meters is not job done, and, as yet, the code of practice for suppliers is not legally enforceable. As the motion makes clear, fuel poverty is at severe levels in Wales, and this could deepen even further. Those who have been forced onto prepayment meters are usually struggling not only with the cost of living, but also with debt."
Sioned Williams, who represents South Wales West in the Senedd, went on to press the Welsh Government to explain when exactly its Warm Homes programme would be operational:
"We must accelerate the improvement of energy efficiency in fuel-poor homes in Wales. What we've had thus far, from both the Minister for Climate Change, and the Minister for Social Justice, has been a commitment that a new, national, demand-led scheme, focused on homes in fuel poverty, will be procured by the end of the year, and there would be no gap in provision between the new and existing programmes.
"So, I would ask again, Minister: when will the demand-led scheme, which focuses on those on the lowest incomes, living in the least efficient homes, be operational? Please answer clearly, as I hope all Members, and the Minister agrees, that it is crucial that those in the deepest hardship are helped as quickly as possible to live in warmer, healthier homes, before next winter plunges people into even more crippling debt, and even darker, colder nights."
The motion passed.
Watch Sioned Williams' contribution below:
Picture: Photo by Arthur Lambillotte on Unsplash