Alun Davies, the Minister for Natural Resources will announce new support and money to tackle rural fuel poverty at today’s National Energy Action Fuel Poverty conference and will speak about the Welsh Government’s ongoing work to make energy bills more affordable.

The Minister will reaffirm his commitment to tackling fuel poverty by increasing the energy efficiency of homes across Wales and helping those on low incomes to reduce their bills.

Despite budget cuts, the Welsh Government is investing £43 million in its energy efficiency programme, which includes the Nest scheme and Arbed project, this year and will invest £70 million of Welsh Government and European funding in energy efficiency in the next financial year.

Collectively, this increased investment will encourage energy companies to invest in Wales, as well as improving the energy efficiency of more than 9,000 Welsh homes in this year alone and helping those householders to reduce their energy bills by up to £500 each year.

At the conference, the Minister will also set out his commitment to reducing energy bills for rural households that are off the gas network and will announce £59,000 for a pilot project that will begin to develop a sustainable county-wide network of fuel buying groups in Ceredigion.

The 18 month project, led by Ceredigion County Council, will encourage householders to bulk-buy oil to help them save up to £150 on their fuel bill each year.

Alun Davies said: “I recognise the challenge we face in tackling fuel poverty in Wales. Soaring energy bill and high living costs, combined with the impact of Welfare Reform and the large number of hard to heat homes in Wales, means that more people are falling into fuel poverty.

“Despite these challenges, we remain committed to tackling fuel poverty in Wales and are investing heavily in energy efficiency measure for Welsh homes. The impact of living in a cold home is huge – it can stop children from achieving their full potential at school and can result in elderly people becoming ill because they cannot afford to put the heating on during the winter.

“The innovative scheme that I am launching today will help cut fuel bills for rural communities in Ceredigion. I look forward to seeing the impact of this project on the people of Ceredigion and whether this model can be used to increase the number of fuel syndicates in other parts of Wales in the future.”