Committee Calls for Action to Eradicate Fuel Poverty
Date: 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.”