'I want to live again, not just survive': 1 in 10 people in Wales won’t be able to pay energy bills

As many as two thirds of people in Wales say they will have to reduce their energy use in order to keep up with their bill payments.

A poll for ITV Cymru Wales found that one in ten people say they won’t be able to afford to pay their bills this winter. 

A further two thirds say they’ll need to reduce their energy use by some degree to keep up with payments.

The latest poll comes after the UK government capped the average cost of energy at £2,500 per household in September.

Denise Lloyd, who lives in Saltney Ferry in Flintshire, said she feels it is becoming impossible to manage her household budget.

Denise has seen bills continue to rise over the last year, despite cutting back on usage.

She told ITV Cymru Wales: “l get up in the morning and put the kettle on. As soon as the kettle’s boiled I’ll pull out all the plugs, switch off everything. 

“Putting the central heating on is a no no. I can’t put that on any more. Most of the time I go back to bed.”

Denise is one of the 42% of people in Wales who have already made cutbacks to their energy use since January 2022. Over half of whom expect to have to make further cuts. 

Having lost her job following a family bereavement during the pandemic, Denise relies on Universal Credit.

The benefit was increased by £20 per week during the pandemic, but has since returned to £334.91 per month.

“I lost my job because of the pandemic, and then we had a death in the family, and I had a nervous breakdown and I couldn’t work any more, I just lost my mode,” she continued.

“My electricity bill’s gone sky high - I used to put £10 a week in it, and now I’m putting a lot more. I get paid monthly on universal credit, and by the fourth week I’ve basically got nothing.

“I had to ring universal credit to get a loan, which I didn’t want to do because I don’t like being in debt. 

“I used to put money in my gas all year round for the winter. I haven’t done that this time, so I don’t know what’s going to happen. 

“I’m so worried about putting things on that I’ll only put it on if I really need it. I wash my clothes once a week, and when I can I swill them through in the sink. I have salads, cold meals. But I shall have my fire on because I’ve got wood in the garden.

“I don’t want a lot, because I do live very frugally. I’ve never had money, I’ve always struggled, but never like this.”

The Welsh and UK governments are currently in disagreement over how to address the rising cost of energy and rising inflation that is squeezing people’s personal finances.

The Welsh Government has a target of being carbon neutral by 2050.

Climate Minister, Julie James, made the announcement in the Senedd this afternoon.

When asked how realistic this goal is, and how a shift to carbon-neutral energy impacts people’s finances in the short term, Wales’ Climate Change minister, Julie James, said: “In the short term we should be looking at directly putting money in people’s pockets to overcome the difficulty with the way the market is arranged.

“The UK government is all over the place on the carbon budget. It is absolutely essential that we get our fossil fuel emissions down. 

“The knee-jerk reaction that you move to fossil fuels because there’s a cost of living crisis actually make everything worse for the next generation because of the cost to them of trying to claw back from that.”

In response, a spokesperson for the UK government said: “Security of energy supply is a key priority for the whole UK.

“In light of Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and weaponisation of energy, the UK Government is taking concrete steps to increase home-grown sources of energy, including in Wales, to reduce our reliance of foreign imports, and explore all possible options to boost domestic energy security.”

The Welsh Government’s plan is for 70 per cent of energy to come from renewable sources by 2030, with an eventual aim to generate enough renewable energy to meet Wales’ entire energy needs.

The large scale energy projects the Welsh Government wants to see implemented rely on cooperation with the UK government.

However, large scale projects rely on decisions being made both in Cardiff Bay and in Westminster.

In the meantime, for people like Denise, debate and disagreements around long term solutions will do very little to solve the problems she faces today. 

“There’s nothing to look forward to. There’s nothing out there,” she continued. 

“It was bad enough before, before the gas and electric and things because at least we could watch the tele, put the radiator on, be nice and warm, whatever, but people can’t do that now. So what’s the outcome? 

“I want to be able to live again, not just survive. I wake up in the morning and I think ‘oh no, what’s today’. It is an existence. It’s not a life. I’m just existing. 

“But it’s up to the government to step up and do something about this because it’s like they’re lost. 

“I’m not bothered where it comes from at the end of the day, but are then just passing the buck - trying to blame Putin for this - haven’t we got our own energy? Haven’t we got other sources?”

You can watch Wales This Week: Power in our Hands at 9pm on Thursday, October 20 on ITV Cymru Wales