Press Release

Committee Calls for Action to Eradicate Fuel Poverty

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Thursday, 23 June 2011

Reference: SD 02/11/12

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Social Development took evidence today from National Energy Action and members of the Fuel Poverty Coalition on the increasing levels of fuel poverty in Northern Ireland.

Committee Chairperson Alex Maskey said: “The Committee was concerned to learn that over 300,000 households in Northern Ireland are in fuel poverty, nearly three times higher than levels in England and significantly higher than the rate in Scotland and Wales.

“With increasing energy prices and a relatively low take up on Government backed energy efficiency schemes, the most vulnerable in our society continue to live in cold and inadequate conditions.

“A new Fuel Poverty Strategy launched by the Department for Social Development in March 2011 committed to working towards a society where fuel poverty would be eradicated. However, the Committee echoes the concerns expressed by both National Energy Action and the Fuel Poverty Coalition– the Strategy must implement more specific targets with timescales and a roadmap to ensure that those most in need are quickly identified and receive meaningful support and advice. Without this it will be impossible to measure the effectiveness of the Strategy and whether or not it is having any benefit for the most vulnerable in our communities.

“An important aspect of the Strategy is the Warm Homes Scheme and we must ensure that this is properly resourced and review arrangements of the Scheme are in place.

“The Committee will be continuing to monitor the effectiveness of the Fuel Poverty Strategy and will where necessary highlight to the Department where improvements can be made.”

COMMITTEE CALLS FOR ACTION TO ERADICATE FUEL POVERTY


Notes to Editors:

Ending Fuel Poverty: A Strategy for Northern Ireland

On 15 March 2011, the then Minister for Social Development Minister Alex Atwood MLA launched a Fuel Poverty Strategy which will make provision for £127million over the next four years to support new measures to fight fuel poverty and help vulnerable people who are struggling to heat their homes. The full Strategy can be accessed via the following link http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/warmer-healthier-homes.pdf

The Northern Ireland Fuel Poverty Coalition

The Northern Ireland Fuel Poverty Coalition was launched on the 1 November 2010 in response to the increasing serious levels of fuel poverty in Northern Ireland. Further information on the work of the Northern Ireland Fuel Poverty Coalition can be found on their website http://www.fuelpovertycoalition.org.uk

National Energy Action Northern Ireland

NEA is the national energy action charity working in Northern Ireland to eradicate fuel poverty through campaigning, information, training, education and demonstration of good practice.  NEA has been working in Northern Ireland for over ten years and has built up expertise around all aspects of the causes, consequences, nature and extent of fuel poverty across Northern Ireland. Further information on the work of National Energy Action Northern Ireland can be found on their website

http://www.nea.org.uk/northern-ireland/

The Committee for Social Development membership is:

Alex Maskey MLA (Chairperson)
Mickey Brady MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Gregory Campbell MLA, MP
Judith Cochrane MLA
Michael Copeland MLA
Sammy Douglas MLA
Mark H Durkan MLA
Alex Easton MLA
Pam Lewis MLA
Fra McCann MLA
David McClarty MLA

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