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One in five households are without mains gas… and they need help say Welsh politicians.

THE one in five Welsh homes without mains gas need help to pay their fuel bills, it is claimed.

Now Plaid Cymru has unveiled a three-point plan to help the estimated 400,000 households in Wales who are off the gas network and who the party says face higher costs with little consumer protection.

Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd has launched a website for households to register their desire to get on mains gas, as part of a business case to the gas suppliers.

Mr Gruffydd has also called on the Secretary of State for Energy to extend the energy watchdog Ofgem’s remit to include people off the mains gas grid using liquid petroleum gas (LPG) or oil.

Currently, off-grid customers do not enjoy the same protections given to mains customers, and prices for gas for off-grid customers are not regulated as strictly, resulting in neighbours paying different prices for gas from the very same suppliers.

The third element of Mr Gruffydd’s proposal is a collective bargaining scheme for existing off-grid customers to negotiate and purchase off-grid gas en masse, in order to secure the best deal for all. Similar schemes have already proved fruitful for on-grid customers.

Mr Gruffydd said: “The winter chill means people are having to turn up the heating in their homes.

“For many hundreds of thousands of Welsh consumers that means paying over the odds for their heating at a time when wages and benefits are being cut or frozen.

“Many energy suppliers aren’t regulated and customers face ever-increasing fuel bills because there is little choice, especially outside towns and cities. Rural areas are being hit disproportionately by this extra cost.

“Many households could save hundreds of pounds a year if they were connected to the mains gas.”

Plaid said it wants to speed up the Welsh Government’s commitment to provide mains gas for households.

The AM said: “At this rate it would take about 100 years to get all those within 1km of the grid linked UP. I’m asking people who want mains gas to sign up to our campaign at offgridcymru.org so that we can press for action on their behalf. For those unable to get on mains gas, for whatever reason, we want to encourage community buying clubs to get people significant discounts on oil and other fuels.”

The fuel poverty coalition estimates that 320,000 UK households are in fuel poverty. Fuel poverty refers to households who would have to spend more than ten per cent of their income to ensure their home is adequately heated. It is estimated that 26% of households in Wales are in fuel poverty, exacerbating respiratory conditions and circulation problems.

The new off-grid survey ¦is at offgridcymru.org DAILY POST SAYS – P8 CASE STUDY: Switching your provider saves NON mains gas customer Rupert Pullee yesterday urged fellow oil or liquid petroleum gas consumers to follow his example and switch to a cheaper supplier.

Mr Pullee (pictured) runs the Pen y Gwryd Hotel in Capel Curig and is now with Avanti. FloGas had offered him a discount but he refused and went with a rival company – savings in the thousands for a commercial outlet. He said: “I would urge other customers to shop around too.”

Diane Williams, of Ty’n y Groes in Conwy, is another non mains gas customer. The architect, who has had fuel in an underground tank, was unhappy with her bills, “took the bull by the horns”, switched suppliers and saved 40pc of her bill. But she said: “Older, more vulnerable people don’t seem to understand that they can switch suppliers.”

The Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “The Government is doing everything within its power to help hard-pressed families keep their energy bills down. Households on the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive receive payments to offset the cost of renewable heating.”

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