Mc Laughlin -Alarmed at Fuel poverty figures
Sinn Féin Economy spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) has said he is concerned at figures contained in The Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) Annual Update on Fuel Poverty and Health 2009 which has warned that levels of fuel poverty are expected to increase in the North as improvements in energy efficiency are negated by increasing fuel costs.
Mitchel McLaughlin said
“The annual update from the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) Fuel Poverty and Health 2009 is very worrying indeed. It has warned that levels of fuel poverty are expected to increase as improvements in energy efficiency are negated by increasing fuel costs.
"People living in the North of Ireland know only too well the effects of the high price of fuel costs and many households are struggling to meet energy bills. It must also be remembered that wages here fall well short of the average used in many of these studies and the shortfall in pay scale is not matched nor is there a rise in benefits to offset those costs.
"I was alarmed to read that winter deaths as a result of cold has increased steadily. There was a 23% increase in the number of people dying in the winter of 2008, compared to the winter of 2007. Excess winter deaths are now approaching 1,000 per year in the North.
"It has been clearly established over recent years that households headed by older people are much more likely to be living in fuel poverty. Older people are more likely to live in older houses which are less likely to be energy efficient.
"It's scandalous that people are missing out on millions of pounds in benefits that they are entitled to to tackle issues such as fuel poverty. I would appeal for as many people as possible to check with the many excellent community advice centres and elected representatives Constituency services to ensure that they are receiving all of the benefits to which they are entitled.They could find that they are missing out on that much needed extra ten, twenty pounds a week or should be getting help with such things as their rates or are entitled to a home insulation grant."