Complete overhaul of winter fuel payments needed
Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Martina Anderson has called for a complete overhaul of the winter fuel payment scheme to deal with the current rising fuel poverty crisis affecting many homes in the city.
Ms Anderson said:
"The issue of fuel poverty is increasing on a daily basis and it's clear that many people are in genuine need of help but are unable to access any financial help to go towards fuel costs.
"I am calling for the winter fuel payments to be extended to all those on low income, in receipt of child benefit and for those people with medical conditions that are affected by the cold weather.
"Those who are in genuine need of extra help and fit the criteria should get it; we can't have a situation in the coming winter months of people sitting in homes with no heat and no hot water.
"The introduction of oil fired central heating systems in many homes was seen as step forward, but we are now seeing problems on a daily basis were people can't afford to fill their oil tanks due to rising costs.
"In the past people could have got the money together to pay for a bag of coal but the cost of an oil fill is outside their reach and the small emergency refills are uneconomic. Recently Sinn Féin has called for the introduction of a new oil stamp saving scheme that is currently being piloted in County Antrim. That idea needs to be looked at very seriously here.
"When people can't afford to heat their homes it will inevitably lead to more health problems. Keeping your home warm and comfortable should not become a luxury it should be right. People should not be faced with the unenviable choice of deciding whether to heat their homes or put food on the table." ENDS