Belfast Telegraph

Fuel poverty a matter of life and death

Fuel poverty in Northern Ireland is now a life and death issue, according to a campaigning organisation representing older people in Northern Ireland.

Age Sector Platform, which represents around 200,000 older people here, says that older people’s incomes must be increased in order to tackle the issue. A delegation from the group met with MPs Naomi Long, Nigel Dodds, Jim Shannon and others to appeal for help.

Ivan Baxter from Age Sector Platform commented: “Considering that over 700 older people died of cold related illnesses during the last winter in Northern Ireland, it is clear that fuel poverty really has life or death consequences for many older people. Income is a major factor in the level of fuel poverty, which is why a delegation of older people from Age Sector Platform travelled to Westminster this week to discuss the level of the state pension and emphasise the importance of the winter fuel payment with Northern Ireland MPs.”

“Following the spending review announcement, it seems that the Coalition Government does not plan to maintain the payment at its current level of £250 (and £400 for the over 80s), but will revert the payment to its original amount of £200 (and £300). Any cut in the winter fuel payment will have devastating consequences for older people here. In fact, pensioners in Northern Ireland are twice as likely to be dependant on the state pension and other benefits as those living in Great Britain. Inadequate income for pensioners is a massive issue which must be addressed.”

“The Department for Social Development (DSD) recently consulted on a draft strategy to tackle fuel poverty, but we believe this strategy is more focused on energy efficiency measures. More needs to be done in the areas of income and energy prices.

“DSD can not solve this problem alone and the NI Assembly needs to take collective responsibility if we are to make any headway in tackling this issue.”

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph