Tuesday, 20 October 2009

It's not just houses that people can't afford to fuel

Posted on This is My Truth on October 20th

The Charter aimed at ridding Wales of fuel poverty by 2018 launched today outlined how one in four Welsh households suffered from fuel poverty, meaning they have to spend 10% or more of their income on heating.

Though the concept of fuel poverty is familiar to us the figures are stark and shocking. Perhaps less well known is the fact that Wales is also riddled with transport poverty.

One in four households don’t have access to a car – in communities like Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil as many as 35% of families are car-less. But because jobs and services are often difficult to access by public transport many on low-incomes feel forced to ‘invest’ in a car.

Research shows that buying and running a car is a major cause of people getting into trouble with debts. Those on low-wages who do have cars spend nearly a quarter of their income on the cost of motoring. And the cost is set to rise. The price of oil has already more than doubled since early this year and is predicted to keep on going up.

Transport poverty in Wales will increase further if our society continues to be shaped by the idea that running a car is the same kind of ‘basic need’ as heating our homes. Wales needs to rethink its transport priorities so that sustainable transport options are seen as realistic and convenient for people and owning a car is no longer seen as a necessity but a lifestyle choice.

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