The Welsh Government has launched a £4 million scheme to help some of the most vulnerable households with spiralling energy bills.
The national fuel vouchers scheme will be administered by the Fuel Bank Foundation and targeted towards people with prepayment meters and households that are not connected to the mains gas.
Nearly 120,000 people on prepayment meters will be eligible for around 49,000 vouchers to support them during the cost-of-living crisis.
Vouchers will range from £30 during the summer months to £49 in the winter, with households receiving up to three vouchers over a six-month period.
The announcement comes as figures reveal people on prepayment meters in North Wales have been the hardest hit in the UK by rising standing charges, with costs increasing by 102%.
Standing charges for households on prepayment meters in South Wales have risen by 94% – the fourth highest in Britain.
The £4 million scheme will also include a Heat Fund, which will provide direct support to eligible households living off the gas grid that are reliant on heating oil and liquid gas.
It will help an estimated 2,000 households across Wales.
Social Justice Minister Jane Hutt said: “The cost-of-living crisis is having a devastating impact on people in Wales. Today, nearly half of all households in Wales are at risk of falling into fuel poverty. This is deeply shocking.
“We are investing an extra £4m in the Fuel Bank Foundation to roll out a national scheme that covers the whole of Wales and supports people most in need.
“This extra help is for people on prepayment meters and for those who are not on mains gas or electricity – both ignored by the Chancellor in his latest package.”
The extra funding comes as households across Wales are struggling to pay their energy bills which have been exacerbated by the increase in the domestic energy price cap in April, according to the Welsh Government, with customers on prepayment meters the most susceptible to rising costs and increased standing charges.
Those on default tariffs paying by direct debit have seen a typical average household energy bill increase by £693 a year, while people on prepayment meters have been hardest hit, with increases of £708 a year.
The government adds households not connected to the mains gas network are also suffering from rising fuel costs and being forced into fuel poverty, with around one in 10 households reliant on heating oil in Wales.
A delivery of 500 litres normally costing around £340 is said to cost cost upwards of £750 now in some regions.