19 October 2011
The Northern Ireland Fuel Poverty Coalition has today responded to a UK independent review[1] of fuel poverty. It says the review leaves no doubt as to the breadth and depth of the problem which is engulfing many of the UK’s most vulnerable households.
 

The report, written by John Hills, Director of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics, on behalf of the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, highlights that living in a cold home has a series of effects on illness and mental health. Hill suggests more people die per year as a result of living in a cold home than are killed in traffic accidents.

Pat Austin, joint chair of the NI Fuel Poverty Coalition said,

“The situation in Northern Ireland is the most severe in the United Kingdom. The last official government figures showed that in 2009, fuel poverty levels in Northern Ireland were significantly more than in England, Scotland and Wales[2].  Since then, Northern Ireland has suffered two of the coldest winters on record and experienced significant increases in energy prices.”

Energy bills in Northern Ireland are around £1,000 dearer than those in than Great Britain[3] and analysts believe this difference will increase as the cost of wholesale heating oil begins to rise coming in to this winter period[4].

 

Antoinette McKeown, joint chair of the NI Fuel Poverty Coalition added:
“It is a disgrace how many households in Northern Ireland will face living in a cold home this winter.  With one in two households in fuel poverty in Northern Ireland the NI Executive urgently needs to examine the findings of John Hill’s report and set out a detailed action plan of how and when it will eradicate fuel poverty, and how it will support all fuel poor households to stay warm this winter.”
Ends

[1] Interim report from UK Government independent review of fuel poverty – 19 October 2011
[2] The latest official statistics show that 44 per cent of households in Northern Ireland were in fuel poverty. This compares to 18% of households in England, 26% in Wales and 33% in Scotland.
[3] The highest dual fuel energy bill in GB is in Cardiff at £1100pa. The average heating oil and electricity bill in Northern Ireland is £2117pa.
[4] Reuters, “Heating Oil adds to Winter Pain”, 16/10/11. The majority of people in NI rely on home heating oil, whereas the majority of people in GB use gas heating, which continues to be cheaper than oil.