Heating, homes and economy key for Welsh Liberal Democrats

January 10, 2012 11:54 AM

Kirsty Williams, the Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, has today said that the Welsh Liberal Democrat group in the Assembly will work towards eradicating fuel poverty and easing the housing crisis that is affecting first time buyers and the construction sector in Wales.

Statistics reveal that more than 40% of households in Wales are living in fuel poor homes with 20% of households in Wales spending £1 in every £5 on fuel to keep their families warm this winter. The impact on households that suffer from fuel poverty can be extreme, with cold housing contributing to low attainment amongst school children, poor health and a rise in excess winter mortality rates.

Schemes to tackle fuel poverty must reach more people in more parts of Wales so that families can keep their energy costs down and Wales can play its part in reversing the effects of global warming.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have also said that a drop in the number of new homes being started in Wales will keep house prices at unaffordable levels and add to the problems of first time buyers.

During April to June 2011, 1,205 new dwellings were started, down by 31 per cent on the same quarter in 2010 and down by 7 per cent on the number started during April to June 2009

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for a Welsh Government scheme where the government will act as a guarantor for a number of mortgages across Wales, helping first time buyers on the housing ladder for the first time.

Measures to deal with fuel poverty and the lack of available and affordable housing could boost the Welsh economy and help vulnerable people save money.

Kirsty Williams said:

"Fuel poverty in Wales is a serious issue. Rising energy prices have had a huge impact on family budgets this winter, despite having a milder winter. Just last month, we saw the number of households living in fuel poverty in Wales rising to 41% - the highest percentage throughout the UK.

"In a civilized society, vulnerable people should not have to worry about whether or not they can afford to heat their homes. The impact on households that suffer from fuel poverty can be extreme with cold housing contributing to low attainment amongst school children, poor health and a rise in excess winter mortality rates.

"The Welsh Government failed to reach its target of taking all vulnerable households out of fuel poverty by 2010.

"The Welsh Liberal Democrats have always been committed to tackling fuel poverty but there is now an even greater urgency in dealing with this issue as it is clear that Labour Government policies do not go far enough. We will work with other parties and the Welsh Government to ensure that the number of households living in fuel poverty in Wales will be in decline.

"The Welsh Liberal Democrats will also work in this Assembly term to address the growing housing issue. The recent drop in the number of new homes being started in Wales are keeping house prices at unaffordable levels and this adds to the problems of first time buyers.

"We understand how difficult it is for young people to make it on the housing ladder. Many people feel trapped in renting accommodation because they can't raise the big deposit needed to buy their first home and they can't borrow money from the bank of mum and dad.

"We want to see a Welsh Government scheme where the government will act as a guarantor for a number of mortgages across Wales, helping first time buyers on the housing ladder."

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