Additional fuel vouchers to help with soaring energy bills in Wales

Regions in Wales are some of the hardest hit in the UK by rising standing charges Credit: PA

Some households in Wales will receive further help with soaring energy bills, as the Welsh Government launches a £4 million fuel voucher scheme.

The extra support will be targeted towards people with pre-payment meters and households that are not connected to mains gas.

It comes as figures show people on pre-payment meters in the north of Wales have been the hardest hit in the UK by rising standing charges, with costs increasing by 102%.

Standing charges for people on pre-payment meters in the south of the country have risen by 94%, the fourth highest in the UK.

The £4 million of new funding will see the Fuel Bank Foundation introduce a national voucher scheme, providing direct support to eligible households.

It is estimated that nearly 120,000 people on prepayment meters will be eligible for approximately 49,000 vouchers that will range from £30 in summer months to £49 in winter.

Households will receive up to three vouchers over a six-month period.

The £4 million will also include a heat fund that will provide direct support to eligible households living off the gas grid, which are reliant on heating oil and liquid gas.

An estimated 2,000 households across Wales will qualify for fund.

Energy bills have soared over the last 12 months Credit: PA

The Welsh Government's social justice minister Jane Hutt said: “The cost-of-living crisis is having a devastating impact on people in Wales.

“Today, nearly half of all households in Wales are at risk of falling into fuel poverty. This is deeply shocking.

“We are investing an extra £4m in the Fuel Bank Foundation to roll-out a national scheme that covers the whole of Wales and supports people most in need.

“This extra help is for people on pre-payment meters and for those who are not on mains gas or electricity – both ignored by the Chancellor in his latest package.”

The extra funding and target support comes as households across Wales are struggling to pay higher energy bills, exacerbated by the increase in the domestic energy cap rise in April.

People with prepayment meters are the most susceptible to rising costs and increased standing charges.

Matthew Cole, head of Fuel Bank Foundation, said: "We are extremely grateful for the support from the Welsh Government, particularly at a time when people are really struggling to cope financially with the cost-of-living crisis and soaring energy bills. 

"The funding will enable the Fuel Bank Foundation to continue providing vital services to the most vulnerable in society, to ensure they don't go cold or hungry this winter, when they can't afford to top up their prepayment gas and/or electricity meter.

"This support will also extend to households who live off the gas grid and rely on solid fuels such as oil, wood or coal to heat and power their homes. 

"Furthermore, it will enable us to expand our operations and capabilities across Wales, with a Fuel Bank centre in every local authority, which will be up and running in time for autumn, when the weather starts to turn colder."