The Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee of the Welsh Parliament, recently (July 2022) published the report, Cost of living pressures. Publication followed a wide-ranging inquiry into the challenges facing people living in rural Wales.
The impact of the increased costs of heating fuel, especially on people living in rural off-grid properties and in older less energy efficient houses was of particular concern. UK Government figures estimate that 74% of properties in Ceredigion are not connected to the national gas network.
The Committee was interested in Scottish research that estimated that being in remote rural areas adds 15 to 30 per cent to a household budget, compared with urban areas.
The report recommends that Welsh Government should support off-grid households through the winter by extending their ability to access support via the Discretionary Assistance Fund or the Fuel Voucher scheme. The Committee references the recommendations of the Equality and Social Justice Committee report on Fuel Poverty and the Warm Homes Programme.
Welsh Government is urged to work with third sector partners to explore a “Warm Hubs” Initiative along the lines of that run in Northumberland. The initiative provides warm safe places for people to meet.
The Committee recommends that more detailed research should be undertaken around the “rural premium” and the different effects of the increased cost of living in rural and urban communities.
Welsh Government is yet to respond to the report.
The full report can be read here.