Man 'spends the day out of the house' to save on electricity as cost of living crisis deepens

John Williams says the cost of living crisis is causing his anxiety to get worse.

A man says his increasing fuel and utility bills are taking a toll on his mental health and anxiety as he struggles to cope with the cost of living crisis.

John Williams, from Swansea, has told the Senedd's Equality and Social Justice Committee that he is trying to do everything he can to reduce costs as he battles with fuel poverty.

"My heating's been off for a while, I'm trying not to use the kettle as much and I haven't used the tumble dryer in a couple of months. To be honest, if I can spend the day out of the house to save electricity, I will.

"My mental health and anxiety have gotten much worse recently. I can barely manage at the moment but if the prices go up again, I'm really going to be in trouble."

The Equality and Social Justice Committee is now calling on the Welsh Government to take urgent action to help those like John. It comes after inflation hit a 40 year high, rising to 9% in April.

John says he is even reducing the amount of times he uses his kettle.

In a report from the Equality and Social Justice Committee, it found that the number of people in fuel poverty is expected to rise to a staggering 45% of households following the energy price cap rises in April.

Households are thought to be in fuel poverty when they are paying more than ten percent of their income on heating their home, according to the Welsh Government.

Jenny Rathbone MS, Chair of the Equality and Social Justice Committee, said "if the Welsh Government is serious about helping people in fuel poverty this winter, it needs to adopt some emergency measures to improve the warmth of badly insulated homes that families can't afford to heat."

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The report has also said that the Welsh Government needs to learn from previous attempts to reduce fuel poverty after it found failures in its Warm Homes Programme.

It was created for households either in or at risk of fuel poverty but the Committee's findings have found that the scale, size and purpose of the programme does not match the level of need in Wales.

The report has criticised the schemes for prioritising the installation of fossil fuel heating systems over other measures, such as insulation, and recommended that the next programme should be much greener.

Ms Rathbone MS added: "schemes like the Warm Homes Programme had admirable aims to reduce both fuel-poverty and carbon emissions; but this report shows that it has been - in many ways - a failure.

"The evidence shows the support this programme provided did not reach many people who now desperately need this help.

"The next programme must be much bigger in scale and do a better job of targeting those who are in greatest need. It must aim to be greener as well as fairer, - not just giving away gas boilers."

Many are fearful about their utility bills rising considerably in the Autumn.

In response to the report a Welsh Government spokesperson said: "Since October, we have invested more than £380m in support for lower income households to help them with this unprecedented energy and cost-of-living crisis.

"We are continuing to work with stakeholders to ensure our support reaches as many households as possible.

"The issue of fuel poverty, now more than ever, requires real and urgent action from the UK Government. We will consider the committee's recommendations as we refine our policy proposals to tackle fuel poverty and decarbonise homes following the consultation on the next iteration of the Warm Homes Programme."