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Author: Northern Ireland Executive -
Published on 14 March 2011 10:30 AM

Social Development Minister Alex Attwood has announced £127million over the next four years to support new measures to fight fuel poverty and help vulnerable people who are struggling to heat their homes.

New and innovative measures including a pilot boiler replacement scheme that targets those in greatest need and energy brokering agreements are also part of ‘Warmer Healthier Homes - a new Fuel Poverty Strategy for Northern Ireland’.

Thirteen hundred homes across Northern Ireland will get their boilers replaced in a £2million pilot scheme.

The Assembly is just passing new legislation to allow for energy brokering, which for the first time, will provide some control on the price of household fuel.

Minister Attwood said: “Now, more than ever, government needs to exhaust every possibility in an effort to help people in need.

“Following on from the example of the Citizens Energy Corporation, established in the United States by Joe Kennedy and which has delivered millions of gallons of discount home heating oil to poor and elderly households; new legislation is just being passed here with the potential to deliver reduced gas and electricity costs for thousands of Housing Executive and Housing Association tenants.”

Minister Attwood continued: “More than 44% of people in Northern Ireland live in fuel poverty, a figure more likely to rise than fall as time goes on. People cannot afford to heat their homes adequately. People need help. This is a serious situation and one which requires a combined effort to combat. The hardship fund proposed by me and directed to those in need can also help, though its budget should be increased in 11/12 and guaranteed for 12/15.”

Joe Kennedy, son of the late Senator Robert Kennedy, has lent his support to the strategy, saying: “Your work to provide energy assistance to low-income residents while increasing the energy efficiency of their boilers is both good social policy and morally the right thing to do. You should take pride in your efforts to shelter Northern Ireland’s most vulnerable families from the high cost of fuel and to make their homes part of the green solution for a more liveable planet.”

For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575