Welsh Liberal Democrat Social Justice spokesperson, Peter Black AM, has called on Welsh Labour Government to do more to tackle fuel poverty after figures have shown that there were 640 more 'excess winter deaths' last year compared to the previous year.
Statistics show that there were 1,900 excess winter deaths in 2012-2013, up from 1,260 in 2011-2012. This means that there were 1,900 more deaths in Wales in the winter period than there were in the non-winter period.
The figures also revealed each region's 'Excess Winter Mortality Index' figure. This figure is gathered so that comparisons can be made between sex, age and region. Newport not only had the worst index figure, but it was also the 11th worst for excess winter deaths in the UK. This was followed by Bridgend and Gwynedd.
Peter Black AM said:
"Last winter was bitterly cold, however it is still a concern to see how many excess winter deaths happened. One major reason is that people are often living in homes that are simply too cold. These people need support from the Welsh Labour Government. In a civilized society, vulnerable people should not have to worry about whether or not they can afford to heat their homes.
"Over two-thirds of the 2050 housing stock has already been built. This highlights the importance of focusing on a radical overhaul of the energy efficiency of existing homes. People are struggling to pay their ever increasing fuel bills and they are not getting the support they desperately need.
"In April, a representative from Community Energy Wales told the Environment and Sustainability Committee that progress on Ynni'r Fro, a Welsh Government community energy scheme, has been 'really slow'. It's time the Welsh Labour Government got a grip on implementing schemes like this properly.
"The Welsh Labour Government also needs to be looking at how social care services and the NHS can identify people in advance so that help can be offered to them over these tough months. This more proactive approach would certainly be of great assistance to people."