Plaid call for fair energy tariffs to tackle 'eat or heat' dilemma


Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards has warned that the confusion over the Prime Minister’s pledge to force energy companies to offer customers their lowest tariffs is wasting valuable time in the fight against fuel poverty.

Four of the 'Big Six' energy companies have already declared intentions to increase prices before the end of the year, but the Government is under huge pressure to take swift action to challenge these hikes.

Mr Edwards repeated his call for a mandatory social tariff that would offer targeted support to the most vulnerable people in society, particularly those meeting the 'fuel poverty' criteria by spending 10% of their income on energy bills. 

He added that the competitive market will never work for people most at risk, and that failure to tackle this will see an increased number of families facing the desperate 'eat or heat' dilemma.

Mr Edwards said:

"With 25% of Welsh homes living in fuel poverty, the situation is desperate. 3,000 unnecessary elderly deaths are expected this year as a result of fuel poverty and the Coalition's slashing of the Winter Fuel Allowance from £300 to £200 will only see the problem worsen.

"The Prime Minister is eager to be seen tackling the problem but his call for companies to offer customers their lowest tariffs will do very little to help the real victims of fuel poverty, in fact it could lead to a universal standardised high priced tariff.

"Equally Labour's policy of relying solely on market forces through increased competition is illiterate and has failed since the very start.   Government has to intervene to protect the most vulnerable in society – Labour had 13 years to do so and failed.

"The flaws in the competitive market are clear. Nobody in an energy-rich nation such as Wales should suffer fuel poverty yet we are seeing food banks springing up nationwide as an increasing number of families face the desperate 'eat or heat' dilemma.

"The Party of Wales has consistently campaigned on this issue, calling for those deemed to be fuel-poor to be taken out of the market and put on a mandatory social tariff. This would see people receiving the help they need based on their circumstances and needs, rather than fall victims to the Government’s dithering and indecision.”