A more holistic approach is needed in order to tackle the issue of fuel poverty in Wales’ private rented sector, says the RLA.
The association’s policy officer in Wales Tim Thomas addressed the National Assembly for Wales’ Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry into fuel poverty on Wednesday, calling on a more holistic approach, saying that properties tackled by the current strategy have so far only been in some of Wales’ most deprived areas.
He said that there will be many fuel-poor occupiers in homes in more affluent areas as well.
Tim was giving evidence alongside Matthew Kennedy, policy and public affairs manager at the Chartered Institute of Housing, and Bethan Proctor, policy and external affairs manager at Community Housing Cymru.
Responding the a question during the evidence session by the panel about what landlords are already doing around fuel poverty, Tim listed landlords are already carrying out works including external wall installations and loft installations.
However, he also told the committee that unlike the social sector private landlords are in a “difficult” position to know whether their tenants are suffering from fuel poverty, as finding out can often involve landlords asking intrusive questions of their tenants.
Despite this, he added that there are support services that landlords can signpost their tenants to, and many are already educating their tenants on simple steps they can take to improve energy efficiency including draft exclusion and closing windows.
Representing RLA members
During the evidence session, Tim shared the experience one RLA member faced when it came to improving the energy efficiency rating of their property, a Victorian stone house.
What the RLA wants to see when it comes to a strategy to tackle fuel poverty
The session then moved on to questions addressing what more can be done to tackle fuel poverty.
Giving evidence, Tim shared that the RLA wants to see:
- The least fuel-efficient homes targeted first, such as those properties with an energy efficiency rating of an F or a G.
- Tenants living in the private rented sector should be provided with the same support as tenants in the social sector are currently receiving, for example with the help of support from the third sector and councils.
- Ring-fenced funding for the private rented sector. Tim shared with the committee that under the current strategy, existing cash has so far only tackled the ‘low hanging fruit’.
To watch the evidence session in full click here and see below. Tim Thomas begins speaking at 10 minute in, approximately.
Tim shared with the committee that very few local authorities in Wales are maximising their access to the UK Government’s Eco-flex scheme, which gives councils flexible funding to target properties & demographics vulnerable to fuel poverty, to fund insulation and heating measures (when not covered under MEES funding).
Tim acknowledged that whilst local authorities have experienced difficulties in having the staff to evaluate and administer such a scheme, one solution could be to pool resources through co-working on a regional level or, even, the Welsh Government taking it up as a pan-Wales scheme exist.