Plaid Cymru launched its winter campaign today, in order to raise awareness about fuel poverty. It's worrying to think that 25% of households in Wales are in fuel poverty - which is classified as spending 10 per cent or more of your annual income on heating your home - and many other are at the very least fuel poor. Many are struggling and dreading seeing the bills arrive through the letterbox. I'm personally shocked at how expensive my gas and electricity bills are. Indeed, to compensate I'm taking the bus rather than the tube to work. It only adds ten minutes to my journey in the morning, and yet I save two pounds a day. So at least I can afford to keep warm this winter!
Other people aren't as lucky, and there are many families facing tough decisions this winter - either to heat their homes or put food on the table. People will have to go into debt just to cover basic expenses or suffer from the effects of inadequate heating.
Whilst researching this issue, it angered me to realise that prepaid meter customers pay higher rates than direct debit customers. Surely, this is unfair, especially as its usually the poorest within our society who have to pay with prepaid credit. Why should they therefore be faced with paying more than those who can afford to pay by direct debit? I'd definitely like to see this outlawed.
Similarly, it seems unjust that energy companies to continue to raise their prices whilst at the same time recording major profits. Surely a windfall tax on their profits would be a common sense approach? The money collected could go towards helping our most vulnerable - the elderly, the disabled, cancer patients, people with long term illnesses, and families with disabled and young children.
Gordon Brown needs to take action so that people don't suffer this winter. Please show your support for our campaign by signing the petition. It doesn't matter which political party you support. Our approach is a common sense one, that could make a real difference to people's lives.
Age Concern estimates that 1500 or more people could die in Wales this winter because of inadequate heating. That's a sobering thought, and yet another reason why action is needed now. This campaign isn't about scoring political points. Rather, its about helping our most vulnerable.