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Fuel Poverty Coalition Responds To 'Representation' Of Statistics
7th September 2011
Northern Ireland's Fuel Poverty Coalition has reacted with concern to today's press statement issued by the Department for Social Development (DSD), which presents a new 'calculation' putting Northern Ireland's fuel poverty levels at 13 per cent. Today's statement contradicts DSD's own Departmental official statistics which showed at least 44 per cent of households are in fuel poverty in the province.
Antoinette McKeown, joint Chair of the Fuel Poverty Coalition said, "We are extremely concerned that the press statement may be suggesting that fewer people are suffering. The Department's own figures said that in 2009 at least 44 per cent of people in NI were in fuel poverty and yet today, following two years of energy price rise and many incomes frozen or reduced, we are being told only 13 per cent of households are in fuel poverty.
"The Fuel Poverty Coalition is appealing to the NI Executive and Social Development Committee to step in and ensure that the current budget is ring-fenced and increased to help those households who are suffering. We heard from fuel poverty experts today that it is time to stop putting money into monitoring figures and start taking action to help people. We welcome those calls and urge the Executive to take heed.
"We have outlined on several occasions suggestions and schemes which are happening elsewhere which could be adopted in Northern Ireland to relieve the fuel poverty crisis that exists here. The NI Executive has a duty to examine these immediately and ensure that we stop monitoring figures and start helping more people."
The Fuel Poverty Coalition backed recommendations in the University of Ulster's report, launched today, for a targeted approach to tackling fuel poverty. The report highlights the fact that at least 33,000 households in Northern Ireland are in 'severe fuel poverty', paying more than 25 per cent of their income on energy, and calls for urgent action to support those worst affected by fuel poverty.
Antoinette adds, "The Fuel Poverty Coalition welcomes the publication of this report in the context of a UK wide review of fuel poverty. With the majority of households in Northern Ireland spending around £900 a year more on energy bills than the majority of households in Great Britain, we support the Report's recommendation to adopt a targeted approach to tackling fuel poverty.
The Northern Ireland Fuel Poverty Coalition is calling the NI Executive to develop a detailed and costed action-plan setting out how and when fuel poverty will be eradicated in Northern Ireland and to provide support to all fuel poor households to stay warm until fuel poverty is eradicated.