07 December 2011
The Fuel Poverty Coalition has hit out at the cuts to the Winter Fuel Payment that have been imposed by Westminster.
Despite numerous campaigns from a range of organisations including the Fuel Poverty Coalition, Winter Fuel Payments have been slashed by £50 or £100, depending on the household. This is taking place following two of the coldest winters on record and at a time when energy costs have never been higher.
Pat Austin, joint Chair of the Fuel Poverty Coalition, which has a base of around 150 organisations from across Northern Ireland representing local councils, voluntary, community, business and faith groups, said:
“The cut to the Winter Fuel Payment is a national scandal which will have huge impacts for the health and well being of our older people. The payment went some way to protect ing the most vulnerable and those who have taken this decision should be hanging their heads in shame.”
The cuts have been introduced in Northern Ireland despite the region having the highest incidence of fuel poverty in the UK. Also, older people in Northern Ireland are further disadvantaged as they are not entitled to a Warm Homes Discount of £120 which is payable to GB pensioners on low income.
The Fuel Poverty Coalition is calling on the NI Executive to use the Social Protection Fund to reduce these inequalities in the first instance and develop a plan setting out how and when fuel poverty will be eradicated in Northern Ireland.
Concluding Antoinette McKeown, joint Chair of the Fuel Poverty Coalition said:
“The cuts to the Winter Fuel Payments are not only unfair on our older people, but they could not have come at a worse time when the energy bills for the majority of households here are around £1,100 higher than the highest energy bill in GB. The focus now must be on the Executive and its Programme for Government 2011-2015 to ensure our older people receive the required support to keep their homes warm this winter”.
 87 per cent of households in Great Britain use Natural gas. A recent Department of Energy and Climate Change report showed the highest dual fuel bill in GB was in Cardiff at £1,100.
Notes for Editors:
- The NI Fuel Poverty Coalition (FPC) launched on 1 November 2010, as a response to the increasing levels of fuel poverty in NI. The FPC’s focus is to move forward the fuel poverty agenda in NI, in terms of both policy and practical initiatives.