Collaboration is Key to Reducing Fuel Poverty Says Assembly Committee

Source : Northern Ireland Assembly
Published on 29 May 2012 04:30 PM

Northern Ireland Assembly

The Assembly Committee for Social Development has published its report on fuel poverty.

The wide ranging report focuses on potential solutions to fuel poverty and examines the mechanisms by which these solutions can be further explored, prioritised and implemented.

Speaking after the launch of today’s report, Committee Chairperson Alex Maskey MLA said: “Fuel poverty has become endemic in our local communities with recent statistics citing that over 44% of people here are finding it increasingly difficult to heat their homes. It was within this context that my Committee initiated a fuel poverty event, where relevant departments, their committees and a range of stakeholders came together to devise targeted and workable solutions to combating fuel poverty.

“We were very keen to ensure that our report would focus on all the underlying issues that surround fuel poverty. We believe that our recommendations are realistic, practical and viable and if implemented will make a very real difference to the way we tackle fuel poverty in our local communities. 

The report advocates the establishment of thematic action groups (TAGS).

These groups would be tasked with identifying and prioritising agreed workable, realistic and time bound solutions to fuel poverty.

A number of practical considerations are also explored in the report. These include the feasibility of alternative payment options for home heating oil such as pay-as-you-go schemes and innovative approaches by both the public and private sector to maximise benefit uptake. The report also recommends that the practicality of energy brokerage schemes is further explored. Currently the Northern Ireland Housing Executive negotiates on behalf of its tenants, using its relative size to reduce fuel costs to tenants. 

Mr Maskey concluded: “My Committee recognises the challenge that fuel poverty presents and we are under no illusion that there are any quick fixes.  However, we are confident that the recommendations contained in this report present the Executive departments, led by DSD, and stakeholders with an opportunity to engage constructively and collaboratively and to put in place real and practical solutions that will reduce and ultimately prevent fuel poverty here. It is vital that the recommendations and solutions identified in the report are urgently considered and taken forward by the department”.

The Social Development Committee’s Fuel Poverty Report can be accessed on the Northern Ireland Assembly Website via the following link www.niassembly.gov.uk/Assembly-Business

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