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Heating Oil Saving Stamp Sales Reach £500k
4th May 2012
The sale of Bewarm heating oil savings stamps, which help people pay their fuel bills has reached £500,000 in the Belfast area.
The Bewarm scheme was introduced originally in January, 2009 by Belfast City Council as a pilot project to help seniors save for oil bills but proved so successful it was extended to all residents in July that year. Belfast was one of the first cities in the UK to introduce a savings scheme for heating oil users.
Oil is the most popular fuel to heat homes in Northern Ireland and since 2003, oil prices have soared by 150%.
Councillor Bernie Kelly, Chairman of the all-party reference group on Older People, which introduced the scheme said, "It is proving more valuable than ever for local residents.
"According to NI Housing Executive research in 2009, 45% of people in Belfast were living in fuel poverty. This means that they spend more than 10% of their income on heating their home. The total had increased from 38% in 2006, with older people much more likely to be affected.
"In this economic climate we have to do everything possible to help people balance their bills and income and the £5.00 savings stamp, available from a wide range of outlets across the city is a simple, easy way to save for many people."
"Under our Bewarm scheme £257,140 was saved in the last financial year, that is approx £21,500 per month being saved towards oil bills," added the councillor.
Almost 3,000 Belfast households have used the scheme to save for home heating oil and 27 oil companies in Belfast and the surrounding areas accept the stamps as full or part-payment for oil.
There are over 50 retailers around the city selling stamps; those collecting stamps can buy them in leisure centres, credit unions, post offices and local convenience stores.
Information on the savings scheme is available on the Belfast City Council website at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/bewarm