Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs
Good homes support the creation of cohesive and well-functioning communities in which all can play a part. Our Warm Homes Programme continues to make a significant contribution to improving the quality of our homes, supporting people who continue to struggle to meet the cost of their home energy needs, whilst contributing to our ambitions to reduce harmful carbon emissions into our natural environment.
As part of the Warm Homes Programme, the Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest and Arbed Schemes have been improving the energy efficiency of homes since 2009, making them a warmer and more comfortable place to live. The Schemes have continued to support some of the most vulnerable people in our society by improving their resilience to avoidable ill health and preventing premature death. Creating a comfortable home also supports our children to give them the best start in life to help them better realise their full potential.
This week, Annual Reports setting out the activities delivered by agents I appointed last year to manage the Nest and Arbed Schemes during this latest phase of Warm Homes Programme funding have been published. The Annual Reports are presented against the backdrop of the new estimates of fuel poverty in Wales, suggesting 155,000 homes continue to live in fuel poverty, representing 12% of all homes. The level of fuel poverty in Wales has reduced by more than half over the past ten years. These Schemes have made a considerable contribution to reducing fuel poverty, although much more needs to be done if levels of fuel poverty are to be reduced still further.
In relation to the Nest Scheme for 2018-19, the Annual Report shows funding of £15.9 million has provided 15,606 people with help and support by signposting to a number of third party services, such as benefit entitlement checks to maximise income and money management advice. Nest has also helped people to claim their entitlement to a Warm Homes Discount from their energy supplier and more than 3,800 homes have benefited from home energy efficiency measures during this reporting period.
The full Nest Annual Report can be viewed by visiting https://nest.gov.wales/workspace/uploads/files/nest-annual-report-2019-engli-5d3ac3dfd5d07.pdf
In relation to the area based part of the Warm Homes Programme, this first Annual Report published by Arbed-Am-Byth shows more than £1.2m of Welsh Government funding was provided, benefitting people living in 145 homes by improving their home energy efficiency. I expect this Scheme to deliver many more improvements to Welsh homes in the years ahead. Learning the lessons from past Schemes and putting them into practice, this new Scheme is focussed on the customer, reflecting improvements to consumer advice and protection, product standards and quality assurance, together with improved monitoring and evaluation.
The full Arbed Annual Report can be viewed by visiting http://www.arbedambyth.wales/annual-reports/Arbed_Annual_Report_2018-19.pdf.
Taken together with measures installed in homes since the Warm Homes Programme started 9 years ago, our investment of more than £265 million has directly benefitted people struggling to maintain a warm and safe home at an affordable cost in more than 54,800 homes.
The schemes delivered under our Warm Homes Programme make an important contribution in reducing carbon emissions. Achieving near zero carbon emissions from buildings is one of the most significant challenges we face in the next 3 decades. Whilst these Schemes are focused on our efforts to tackle fuel poverty, they make an immediate positive impact in our efforts to decarbonise Welsh homes.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.