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Social Development Minister should reverse decision on heating system repairs

6 January, 2010 - by Fra McCann

Sinn Fein MLA for west Belfast Fra McCann has written to Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie, seeking her to reverse her decision, which bars the maintenance of heating systems for those most in need.

Speaking on the issue Mr McCann said;

“Until recently the housing executive could have carried out maintenance on their heating systems for people on different types of benefits, sadly this has now ceased and many people are now refused help because of a change in policy implemented by Minister Margaret Ritchie and her department.

Under the warm home's scheme people could have applied for assistance to have their heating systems maintained but because of a change in the criteria this has stopped and many thousands of people face a cold winter because of this and are now unable to afford to maintain their systems due to this change in policy.

I have written to the Minister asking that she urgently review this decision.

At a time when she is announcing cold weather payments, many of those most in need sit with broken heating systems and will not be able to afford to pay for the repair of the system. The Minister needs to explain why, on one hand she claims credit for a cold weather payment but also condemns people to live in freezing conditions because of her latest policy change.” CRÍOCH

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