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Anti-fuel poverty scheme launched

Alex Atwood

A pilot boiler replacement scheme will benefit hundreds of homes across Northern Ireland.

Reduced cost gas and electric will also be available to help fight fuel poverty.

Social Development Minister Alex Attwood has announced £127 million over the next four years to help those struggling to heat their homes.

"More than 44% of people in Northern Ireland live in fuel poverty, a figure more likely to rise than fall as time goes on," Mr Attwood said. "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."

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

It is part of the 'Warmer Healthier Homes - a new Fuel Poverty Strategy for Northern Ireland' which is being launched.

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

The low-cost fuel follows from the example of the Citizens Energy Corporation, established in the United States by Joe Kennedy, which has delivered millions of gallons of discount home heating oil to poor and elderly households.

Mr Attwood said 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.