It’s lovely travelling around at this time of year, seeing the Christmas trees and colourful decorations glittering and simmering in windows and gardens. Sadly, they’ll disappear in the New Year with the approach of Twelfth night – that traditional date for taking them down.
However, the bleak days of winter will linger as the glum of post yuletide celebrations sets in. The arrival of 2017 will do little to ease the plight of families in Wales struggling to make “ends meet”.
Just a few days ago, Welsh Government revealed that it can’t achieve its target of ending child poverty in Wales by 2020.
In 2015, almost 72,000 children were living in workless households in Wales. Carl Sargeant, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, said progress has been made, but UK Government welfare reforms are hindering Welsh Government ambitions. In return, the Department for Work and Pensions said they’re helping people who can work get employment.
Housing associations across Wales are doing what they can to support tenants and are constantly looking for new opportunities to help. One way is to promote smart meters, which are being rolled out in Britain as part of a national upgrade to our energy system.
A smart meter will be offered to every household by 2020 and replace the traditional electricity or gas meter (if the property has mains gas) with their complicated and confusing array of old fashioned dials.
What a smart meter heralds is an end to the estimated bill – because for the first time, a handy in-home display will clearly show how much electricity or gas is being used in near real time and the cost in £s and p.
This means a tenant will know exactly how much they are spending, and on what. They can use their smart meter to keep to a budget and hopefully avoid getting into debt. It is benefits like these that led Community Housing Cymru to partnering with Smart Energy GB, the independent organisation promoting the smart meter rollout.
There are other pluses as well.
A smart meter automatically sends meter readings to the energy supplier via its own secure network. It also makes it easier for a tenant to switch energy suppliers – and to change between different payment methods if they have a pre-pay meter. In fact, topping up a pre-pay meter will become as convenient as having a “pay-as-you-go” mobile phone and can be done online, via an app – or as now, in cash at a local store. No more having to insert a key or card in a meter.
Smart meters can only be installed by an energy supplier and this will be done at no extra cost to tenants. While energy suppliers will be contacting tenants when they are ready to install, they can request one now and hopefully have it fitted in their home sooner.
If you have any other queries, please contact Adele Harries-Nicholas, CHC’s Member Services and Business Development Manager on 029 20 674803 or by emailing Adele-Harries-Nicholas@chcymru.org.uk