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Author: BBC News - www.bbc.co.uk/news
Published on 14 March 2011 07:00 AM

New measures are being put in place to fight fuel poverty over the next four years.

More than 44% of people in Northern Ireland live in fuel poverty, and cannot afford to heat their homes.

The department for social development (DSD) is to invest £127m to tackle the problem. This will be spent on making homes more energy efficient and 1300 homes will get their boilers replaced.

DSD minister, Alex Attwood, said the legislation will be passed on Monday.

"The Assembly will pass the legislation which will allow the housing executive to go into the market over the next few months and negotiate lower fuel prices for all the social housing tenants in Northern Ireland," he said.

Mr Attwood said cutting "the cost of gas and electric by 20% or more" would reduce "the likelihood of fuel poverty".

A hardship fund is planned for those who cannot afford heating.

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