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Thousands of Pensioners go cold while McCausland prevaricates

3 November, 2011 - by Seán Lynch

Sinn Féin Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) has accused Social Development (DSD) Minister Nelson McCausland of either being uninformed or deliberating misleading about eligibility criteria for the Boiler Replacement scheme.

Mitchel McLaughlin said:

“I submitted a written question to the DSD Minister asking what help is available to pensioners in receipt of Housing Benefit and are therefore excluded from the Boiler Replacement Scheme.

“Instead of answering the question posed the Minister’s response simply reiterated the conditions of qualification for this scheme but implying that they would qualify under the Warm Homes Scheme.

“The Minister should be aware that the Warm Homes scheme only installs new heating systems for those who have no heating, economy seven heating or solid fuel systems.  It does not replace or upgrade existing boilers, which is why I requested the information for those on Housing Benefit but not qualifying under the present Boiler Replacement criteria. Thousands of pensioners with oil central heating and old systems in need of replacement are suffering the effects of fuel poverty and unable to access assistance.

“The Boiler Replacement Allowance scheme was introduced by DSD this year precisely to cater for those who fall through the net but, as the Minister himself admits, those on Housing Benefit are excluded and therefore the scheme is not delivering for those in need. He says that they are eligible for Warm Homes but under the qualifying criteria as they have a boiler, albeit a broken or inefficient one, they will qualify for insulation only.  CRÍOCH

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