- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Neighbours should get together to secure a cheaper energy deal. That is the advice of Assembly Member Joyce Watson.
In a debate on energy prices at the National Assembly for Wales on Wednesday (13 November), the Labour AM for Mid and West Wales argued for tougher regulation of the energy industry and heating oil suppliers.
Joyce Watson AM said:
“More and more these days, fuel bills take a bigger chunk out of people’s incomes. With budgets stretched wafer thin, more people simply cannot make the sums add up. They are forced to borrow money to pay for the essentials, so it is a question of eat or heat.
“There is a specific issue in Mid and West Wales, where a disproportionate number of the houses are old, draughty and more difficult to modernise. I should also point out that around one in six households in Wales—once again, mainly in rural areas—is off the gas network altogether. There is a big issue with the lack of proper regulation of the heating oil market, which affects many of my constituents, and I believe that we really need to look at that.
“Gas leaks are always a cause for alarm, and the leaks that have come from the industry insiders this week, which purport to have shed light on the way in which the gas and electricity markets are rigged in Britain, must surely scare the UK Government into action.
“The UK Government must strengthen regulation and must do that now. In the meantime, I urge the (Welsh Government) Minister to explore the potential of collective energy switching in Wales. It is a simple idea based on bulk buying to drive down costs. However, it depends on people coming together and I think that the Government is well placed to facilitate that, especially to negotiate with housing associations and local authorities.”
In response to Mrs Watson’s plea, Environment Minister John Griffiths AM agreed to look at how the Welsh Government could promote collective energy switching in Wales. He said:
“As Joyce mentioned, there is also a collectivist aspect to switching, and the more that the Welsh Government can support communities to come together and take necessary action that will benefit all of them, the better. Following those remarks, I will look at how we may strengthen our effort in that regard.”