Author: Age NI
Published on 15 April 2011 12:00 AM
As the average price for 900 litres of home heating oil passes the £550 mark, older people call on Assembly hopefuls to make the elimination of fuel poverty a key priority ahead of the election on May 5.
With energy bills continuing to rise unchecked, a recent Age NI poll has revealed that 9 out of 10 older people believe that people in later life, who are struggling to heat their homes, should be charged at a lower rate(i). Rising fuel prices coupled with harsh winters and the current economic climate have meant that almost two thirds of older people (62%) are now living in fuel poverty(ii). Older voters who have been struggling to keep warm during the winter months are now challenging election candidates to prioritise fuel poverty in the next Assembly, so that no-one, young or old should have to make the choice between eating or heating this year.
Speaking ahead of a pre-election event organised by the Fuel Poverty Coalition, Bill Carson Age Sector Platform Chairman said: ‘We have been engaging with older people across Northern Ireland through our Pensioners Parliaments and fuel poverty repeatedly comes up as a major concern for those in later life. The struggle to pay their fuel bills has resulted in many having to make the choice between heating their home, or buying groceries. With things only set to get worse, older people throughout Northern Ireland are calling on Assembly hopefuls to prioritise fuel poverty as part of the High 5 campaign. They are raising the issue with Assembly candidates on their own doorsteps and at hustings events because they believe fuel poverty must be tackled as a matter of urgency. With one in five eligible voters aged sixty-five and over(iii), election candidates need to give this matter the attention it deserves.’
Anne O’Reilly, Age NI Chief Executive said: ‘The message is clear – older people cannot afford to go through another winter like the one we’ve just had. The outgoing Assembly has ultimately failed to adequately address growing fuel poverty levels with figures showing 83.2% of older people living alone experiencing fuel poverty. Age NI believes the answer lies in the introduction of social tariffs (discounted energy prices). These are offered in England, Scotland and Wales, countries which have much lower fuel poverty levels than Northern Ireland. Social tariffs need to be made available here to prevent the continued rise in fuel poverty levels, and this must be addressed by the incoming Assembly as a matter of urgency.’
To request a copy of the High 5 campaign leaflet phone 028 9024 5729 or 028 9031 2089 or visit www.electionhigh5.org for more information.