Support package announced to help people in Wales cope with spiralling living costs

  • Video report by ITV Wales' cost of living correspondent Carole Green

The Welsh Government has unveiled a package of support worth £330 million to help people cope with spiralling living costs.

Wales' minister for finance and local government, Rebecca Evans, said the government is "more than doubling the equivalent support provided by the UK Government" for those most in need, as it aims to ensure "no-one is left behind".

The Welsh Government has announced what it described as a package of expanded measures to help people amid rising prices, including a £150 cost-of-living payment to be paid as soon as possible and an extra £200 for low-income households through the Winter Fuel Payment next winter.

The £150 payment will be available to all households who live in properties in council tax bands A-D, as well as those in receipt of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme in all bands.

The £150 payment will be available to all households who live in properties in council tax bands A-D

The devolved government said it will be working with local authorities to provide more detail about how the scheme will operate and will start making payments as soon as possible.

It said a further £25 million will be made available as a discretionary fund, allowing councils to use their local knowledge to help households who might be struggling.

The government added that in 2022-23, more than £100 million will be provided to strengthen other schemes that help people meet the rising costs of living.

More funds will be allocated through the discretionary assistance fund - which helps people pay for essential costs such as food, electricity, clothing and emergency travel - and the winter fuel support scheme, which will deliver an additional £200 later this year to hundreds of thousands of low-income households, the Welsh Government said.

John Johnson, a retired van driver, told ITV Wales the payment will make "a huge difference".

“We are in debt with the electric and with the water," he said.

“It is a big worry because you don’t know when you are going to be turned off. 

“It’s cold in here at the moment. I lie in here on the settee at night with a blanket over me. I have bad health, I have heart problems, so with this extra money we can have the heating on.”

The Resolution Foundation has calculated that families face a £1,200 hit from April, as energy bills and taxes rise.

The Bevan Foundation's snapshot of poverty also reveals that more than a third of Welsh households don’t have enough money to buy anything beyond everyday essentials with nearly a third having to cut back on their heating, electricity or water and more than a quarter having to cut back on food.

Rebecca Evans MS

Rebecca Evans said: "People are facing a very real cost-of-living crisis and urgent, meaningful action is required.

"The Chancellor's offer at the start of the month fell short of what people needed. We have been able to go above and beyond to provide Welsh households with more help in paying bills, heating homes and putting food on the table.

"In total we are more than doubling the equivalent support provided by the UK Government for those who need it the most, reflecting our priority of creating a fairer Wales in which no-one is left behind."

Earlier this month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £350 of support for households across England to deal with rising energy bills over the year from April 2022.

Some £150 of the support will take the form of a council tax rebate for all ratepayers in council tax bands A to D.

The Treasury also announced that devolved governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland would be given a total of £565 million extra funding to carry out the same measure.

Earlier this month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £350 of support for households across England to deal with rising energy bills

Last week, Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford said there was "no extra money for Wales" from the Treasury to provide the rebate.

His claim came after the UK Government's Welsh Secretary accused the devolved Welsh Government of leaving its taxpayers "unclear" about whether they would be getting a £150 council tax rebate to help with energy bills.

Jane Hutt, minister for social justice in Wales, said: "The funding we are announcing today will ensure more people get more support, in what are challenging circumstances for so many families in Wales.

"As bills rise, prices go up and wages are stretched we know people will need help, that's why I've convened a Wales-wide Cost of Living Summit on Thursday 17 February, with over 100 participants from a wide range of social partners and third sector organisations across Wales to discuss the crisis and the proactive actions we can take to support people across Wales.

"Addressing the cost-of-living crisis remains a crucial priority for this Government and we will continue to consider all the options available to us."

When asked by ITV Cymru Wales' cost of living correspondent Carole Green if the Welsh Government support was spread too thinly, and if more help should go to those who need it most, the minister said: "We're absolutely seeking to help those who need it most.

"We have tried to extend our support to as many households as possible because we know, come April, many households will start to feel a kind of pinch that they haven't before with the rising cost of energy and the national insurance contributions which are being increased, changing to income tax - a whole range of things have collided the same time which is going to cause problems for families.

"So, we're trying to target the support where it's needed most but recognising that that need is very great."

Speaking at the Welsh Government press conference on Tuesday, Rebecca Evans recognised that the funding announced by the Welsh Government won't "solve the entire cost-of-living crisis" for everyone.

She added: "I'm not suggesting at all that we are going to be able to solve the entire cost-of-living crisis for every family and every household across Wales but what I am promising is that we'll do everything we can to support families"

Welsh Conservative Leader, Andrew RT Davies said he was 'pleased' with the announcement

Commenting on Labour’s cost of living announcement, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said: "I am pleased to see the new money that has come from the Conservative UK Government put to good use by Cardiff Bay ministers as Welsh Conservatives have been calling for. 

"With global energy prices on the up, I am pleased to see action on this issue to help families deal with the cost of living issues that have arisen as a consequence of the pandemic. 

"It is just a shame Labour couldn't help themselves and have a pop at British ministers who have led the way in finding a resolution to this."