Synopsis Text of a letter written to the Clerk of the Committee from Department Official Eilish O'Neill on 14 September 2011.
In my letter dated 25 August I outlined the work ongoing within the Department to tackle fuel poverty. As requested officials will brief the Committee fully on 22 September.
In the meantime, the University of Ulster launched its research entitled “Defining Fuel Poverty in Northern Ireland: A Preliminary Review and I understand that all Committee members were invited to the launch on 6 September.
The Department greatly welcomes this research and I will be happy to talk the Committee through the findings. The findings and recommendations are generating much debate.
The report reaffirms that using the UK definition of fuel poverty (twice the median income spend on energy i.e. 10%) that Northern Ireland continues to show the highest UK levels of fuel poverty, the report also recommends that to assist targeting of resources and initiatives a regional target should be developed based on twice median regional spend (i.e 18%) using this approach 13% of households with NI, which equates to some 75,000 experience fuel poverty at this level . This provides the Department with a very useful tool that will help to focus initiatives on those most in need.
I look forward to briefing the Committee on 22 September.