AN EU-BACKED Welsh Government scheme to help tackle fuel poverty in the poorest areas of Wales is helping to reduce fuel bills and create local jobs, according to the Welsh Government Finance Minister who visited Torfaen today.

Assembly Member Jane Hutt was in Pontypool to see how the government’s Arbed 2 project is getting on in its bid to provide social, economic and environmental benefits to the poorest areas of South Wales.

Torfaen social landlords Melin Homes is delivering the £45 million flagship scheme in the area through a community-based approach – aimed at using local businesses to manufacture, supply and install energy efficiency measures as and provide training and employment opportunities to local workers.

Ms Hutt said: “I am delighted to visit Melin Homes to see first-hand the positive results they have achieved through embedding a ‘community benefits’ approach into their Arbed project.

“This approach is delivering jobs and training for people across South Wales as well as using local supply chains to source Welsh products and using Wales-based companies to carry out the work.”

Arbed 2 is said to have created 204 sustainable employment and training opportunities, while saving 3,785 households an average of £305 per year on their fuel bills.

Ms Hutt said it was also a key feature of the Welsh Government’s Tackling Poverty Action Plan.

Approximately £14.3m in project expenditure has been re-invested in Wales through the Arbed 2 project, with 45 disadvantaged and previously unemployed people receiving employment, and 431 weeks of training being delivered. For every £1 spent, £2 was said to have been generated in the Welsh economy, with 110 per cent of sub-contractors used by the scheme paid within 30 days.

“I am determined to ensure this exemplar approach can be replicated across the housing sector and wider so similar positive outcomes for the local economy and residents of Wales can be achieved,” Ms Hutt added.