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Concern that ‘Green’ rates relief will increase fuel poverty

4 July, 2008 - by Jennifer McCann


Sinn Féin West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann has said that while any proposal to introduce a rates relief for homes meeting or installing energy efficient measures or micro-generation would contribute to a sustainable energy policy that there were genuine concerns that the proposals from Finance Minister Nigel Dodds would penalise those most at risk from fuel poverty.

Ms McCann said:

"While any proposal to introduce a rates relief for homes meeting or installing energy efficient measures or micro-generation would contribute to a sustainable energy policy there were genuine concerns that the proposals from Finance Minister Nigel Dodds would penalise those most at risk from fuel poverty.

"My concern is that this rates relief will be available on higher value homes that have energy efficient measures integrated or to those who can afford to invest in such measures. The result could be that people with less money are simply excluded from this proposed 'Green' rates relief scheme.

"A recent audit report highlighted the fact that 30% of the money spent through the Warm Home Scheme did not end up in energy inefficient homes or with people threatened with fuel poverty, and that despite some £98 million being spent there was a negligible impact on fuel poverty. I am very concern that those most at risk would be excluded from this scheme.

"I would also be deeply concern that the reliefs available to those who can afford to install energy efficient measures will be paid for by those who can't. In essence those who can avail of this scheme being subsidized by people with less money.

"Nigel Dodds was the Minister who controversially scrapped the Reconnect Scheme. We now need a mush stronger commitment from his replacement Arlene Foster that a similar scheme is re-introduced as a matter of urgency. Sinn Féin have also argued that the best long term strategy for eradicating fuel poverty is the use of 'green' technologies that are not dependent on the global energy markets.

"There is no point introducing a piecemeal response, particularly if it excludes many people on low incomes, if we are going to tackle fuel poverty or develop a sustainable energy policy." ENDS

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