East Belfast Ulster Unionist MLA, Michael Copeland has today launched his party’s paper with 12 specific actions which he believes the Northern Ireland Executive must take to tackle the growing crisis of fuel poverty across Northern Ireland.
UUP Social Development Spokesperson, Michael Copeland said;
“The rate of fuel poverty has been climbing sharply across Northern Ireland. The latest official statistics reveal that 44%, of homes in Northern Ireland are now in fuel poverty. This represents a rise from 34% in 2006. However, given that the most recent measurements date back to 2009, few people doubt that the actual figure has now passed the 50% threshold.
Record breaking cold winters, substantial rises in energy prices and the continued ramifications of the economic situation have all contributed to this growing crisis over recent years. It really does deserve to be called a crisis, and it’s about time that the Executive Departments in Northern Ireland started treating it like one.
The Ulster Unionist Party firmly believes that in order to genuinely tackle fuel poverty, Stormont must now direct resources towards those households in the most urgent need, whilst ultimately working towards the eradication of poverty across Northern Ireland.
I genuinely believe that the proposals within our paper have the potential to significantly reduce of fuel poverty across Northern Ireland. None of the proposals in our paper are impossible and importantly; none of them are too expensive to be viable. We explore options such as utilising the social protection fund, reinstating the higher levels of payment for the Winter Fuel Payment.
We’re calling for action; there have been enough reports commissioned, strategies written and advice taken. The Executive knows what the issues are; now is the time to start implementing policies to rectify them.”
UUP Fuel Poverty Action Plan More information on the specifics of each step can be found here.