26 September 2011
The Fuel Poverty Coalition held a special event on Friday, 23 September 2011 in Derry City’s Millennium Forum to examine and discuss practical solutions to the fuel poverty crisis affecting a growing number of households in Northern Ireland.  Around 80 organisations and elected political representatives from across Northern Ireland came together to discuss how to tackle this increasingly important issue.
 

Antoinette McKeown and Pat Austin, Joint Chairs said:
“Today we have heard further evidence of the harrowing human impact of fuel poverty in Northern Ireland.  The Fuel Poverty Coalition will give a voice to all fuel poor households in Northern Ireland and will represent them at the highest level of Government.  We will not leave a stone unturned to tackle this problem and the NI Executive to take immediate action.”


Fuel poverty levels in Northern Ireland are amongst the worst in Northern Europe.  The latest official government statistics on fuel poverty showed that[1] 44 per cent of households (302,000) in Northern Ireland were in fuel poverty in 2009 and 13 per cent in extreme fuel poverty[2].

 

Since 2009 households in Northern Ireland have suffered two of the coldest winters on record and experienced significant increases in energy prices.  Households in Northern Ireland are already spending around 60 per cent more of their disposable income on energy than the UK average[3].

 

A range of topics were discussed at the event and various guest speakersincluded;
  • Antoinette McKeown, Chief Executive, Consumer Council
  • Pat Austin, Director, National Energy Action NI
  • Kevin McCorkell, Welfare Rights Advisor, Macmillan Cancer Support, Altnagelvin Hospital
  • Anne O’Reilly, Chief Executive, Age NI
  • Anne Moore, Policy and Assembly Co-ordinator, Save the Children
  • Colette Rogers, Health Action Zone Manager, Public Health Agency

The Fuel Poverty Coalition is calling on the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly to take urgent action by supporting:
  • The development of a detailed and costed action – plan setting out how and when fuel poverty will be eradicated in Northern Ireland; and
  • The provision of support to all fuel poor households to stay warm until fuel poverty is eradicated.
Ends

[1] Housing Conditions Survey 2009 showed that 44 per cent of households (302,000) were in fuel poverty. What with rising fuel prices, the recent cold winters and the global climate, it is now estimated that 50 per cent (345,730) of households are in fuel poverty.
[2] Spending at least 20 per cent of their income heating and lighting their homes.
[3] Department for Enterprise, Trade and Invesment, February 2011.

Notes for Editors:
  1. 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.