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Five Nations Meet In Belfast To Tackle Fuel Poverty
28th May 2012
The Northern Ireland Fuel Poverty Coalition brought their fight against fuel poverty in the province to Stormont today, at an event in the Long Gallery in Parliament Buildings. Experts from across the Five Nations; England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales examined the main fuel poverty policies and interventions in each region and identified what could work for the 44% of Northern Ireland households who live in fuel poverty.
The Chairperson of the Northern Ireland Executive's Social Development Committee, Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey MLA hosted the event. Northern Ireland Assembly MLAs, the province's MPs, local government, public bodies, the health sector, young/older persons groups and voluntary/community organisations also attended. Discussions focused on key successes, challenges and the lessons learnt in each nation, together with practical measures and interventions that could make a difference in Northern Ireland.
Antoinette McKeown, joint Chair of the Fuel Poverty Coalition said, "The Fuel Poverty Coalition is relentless in our pursuit of practical ways to remove homes from fuel poverty and we are indebted to our 'Five Nations Fuel Poverty' colleagues for coming to share their experience with us. We are grateful for the support of the Social Development Committee. Northern Ireland suffers the highest levels of fuel poverty in the UK and Republic of Ireland so there is real value in learning from fuel poverty experts from each of the five Nations. The Fuel Poverty Coalition is focused on working with the Stormont Executive Team on practical and positive solutions and this event will have a very useful impact on that work."
Pat Austin, also joint Chair of the Fuel Poverty Coalition said, "The Programme for Government includes a commitment to 'introduce and support a range of initiatives aimed at reducing fuel poverty across Northern Ireland including preventative interventions'. The Fuel Poverty Coalitions calls on the Northern Ireland Executive to examine in detail the evidence presented at the 'Five Nations Fuel Poverty' event to inform the development of a detailed and costed action plan setting out how and when fuel poverty will be eradicated here."
William Baker from Consumer Focus in England said, "Current Government plans are not sufficient to tackle the scale of fuel poverty in this country. This is clearly demonstrated by the more than fifty per cent cut in energy efficiency help for the homes of the poorest households in England at a time of rising fuel poverty levels. Consumer bills are increasing because of rising fossil fuel prices, investment in our ageing energy infrastructure and measures to make our energy supply cleaner and more secure. But our bills will in future also include 'carbon taxes' which just go straight to the exchequer, not a guarantee to improve the energy market or to make Britain more energy efficient. Some of this extra revenue could go a very long way to plug the funding gap in providing help to those who need it most."
If you would like to sign up the Northern Ireland Fuel Poverty Coalition, click www.fuelpovertycoalition.org.uk