Ceredigion’s Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams has raised concerns that many in rural areas are contributing far more to energy efficiency schemes than they get back, according to recent research.
Raising these concerns in a debate in the House of Commons Chamber yesterday afternoon on Welsh Affairs, Mr Williams highlighted the findings of some analysis which has been recently been undertaken and published by Calor Gas. The findings have indicated that around 1.7 million rural households across the UK have paid more than £40 each in levies on their electricity bills over the last two years to fund a nationwide energy efficiency scheme, but that many of these homes have received nothing back.
The energy efficiency scheme has the dual aims of cutting carbon emissions to help tackle climate change, and saving households’ money by helping them use less energy. Energy companies charge households levies on their electricity and gas bills to fund the scheme and use the cash to carry out targeted measures to install insulation and new boilers in the homes for vulnerable people, low-income communities or those whose building are hard to treat. However, official statistics suggest that only 1,443 rural homes have benefitted from the part of the scheme designed to help vulnerable communities. Off-grid households are also missing out on new efficient boilers because most companies are only offering gas boilers. So whilst all electricity customers are subject to the same charges by their electricity providers, the research would suggest that the benefits of these funds are not reaching rural households.
Commenting Mark Williams said;
‘Whilst I support the aims of the energy efficiency schemes, more needs to be done to ensure the benefits received to households are more proportionately felt across the whole of the UK, and not just to those in more urban areas which currently seems to be the case.
‘Most of the homes in Ceredigion are run by off-grid, as in many other rural areas. It simply not fair for us as customers to pay these charges on our bills and not see any benefits, particularly when the costs of energy are often higher in rural areas in the first place.
‘I know the Government has promised to look at this again to see how they can further help those in rural areas. Perhaps they could invest in schemes like oil buying syndicates, such as the successful Club Cosy Project we have in Ceredigion, and I put this to the Government in yesterday’s debate. Rural areas are currently missing out, and we await greater action with anticipation.’