PEOPLE with pre-pay electricity meters or those not connected to mains gas are to get extra help with their bills.
The Welsh Government has launched a £4 million fuel voucher scheme to help those most in need to pay their energy bills.
The scheme is designed for people who pay for their energy with a pre-payment meter, or are not connected to mains gas.
Those eligible must also be in intense financial crisis and unable to pay for basic essentials for everyday living, such as food, rent, mortgage, water, council tax and essential travel.
The scheme comes as figures show people on pre-payment meters in north Wales have been the hardest hit in the UK by rising standing charges, with costs increasing by 102 per cent.
The £4m of new funding will enable the Fuel Bank Foundation to introduce a national voucher scheme, providing direct support to eligible households on prepayment meters and those not connected to the mains gas network.
Nearly 120,000 people on prepayment meters will be eligible for approximately 49,000 vouchers to support them during the cost-of-living crisis.
Vouchers will range from £30 in summer months to £49 in winter, with households receiving up to three vouchers over a six-month period.
The £4m will also include a Heat Fund, which will provide direct support to eligible households living off the gas grid, which are reliant on heating oil and liquid gas. This will help an estimated 2,000 households across Wales.
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.”
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."
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