This week is ‘Cold Homes Week’, part of a campaign to highlight the issue of fuel poverty. Last winter, over 31,000 people died of the cold.
Far too many people face the unacceptable choice between heating their home and having enough food to eat. This cannot be right in twenty-first century Britain, particularly when the bosses of energy companies are getting huge bonuses while they raise their customers’ bills and make vast profits.
The Argus is far too civilized a publication to print what I suspect some of your readers think those bosses deserve, but there is something the Government can certainly do. If the money raised from carbon taxes was used to help people make their homes more energy efficient, it would make a big difference to peoples’ bills, and help the environment at the same time. That’s why I support Cold Homes Week, and why I will be calling on the Government to take action on the side of the millions of people struggling to pay energy bills, instead of on the side of the few who are making millions of pounds in profits.
In my last column, I wrote in support of the good work that food banks do in helping feed those in need, including our excellent Eastern Valley Foodbank. I pointed out that people can’t just turn up to these places to save money on food – those in need are referred by agencies like the Council and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped ill-informed attacks from the likes of Edwina Currie, who really should check their facts before criticising the work of organisations like the Trussell Trust.
It was a pleasure to visit another local scheme which is making a positive difference to peoples’ lives in our valley, the Woodlands Field Centre – or Log Cabin as it’s known. I’ve been around long enough to remember when the field was pretty bare and bleak. Now, thanks to the efforts of people like Neil Mason, it’s a place where local people of all ages can go to gain new skills and take part in activities. It’s really become the heart of the community, and it’s good to see the Welsh Government recognizing its success.
Last week, I organised an event for Welsh Oxbridge Alumni, where I met with over 50 people from across Wales who went to Oxford or Cambridge Universities. They are all very keen to help with our efforts to give more of our brightest young people that opportunity. I look forward to helping harness their enthusiasm, to show our youngsters that the top Universities can be a place for them, whatever their background. After all, pupils from Wales are as bright as anyone, and whatever their aspirations, we should help and encourage them to aim for the stars.