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New initiative to tackle scourge of Fuel Poverty - Maskey

16 November, 2011 - by Alex Maskey

Sinn Féin chair of the Social Development Committee, Alex Maskey, will convene a round table discussion tonight aimed at tackling fuel poverty.

The innovative initiative will see all Assembly departments involved in addressing fuel poverty being joined by key stakeholders to examine the way ahead. The objective is to devise a comprehensive approach to impact on this annual winter crisis.

Speaking ahead of the event Mr Maskey said:

“The Department of Social Development is the lead Assembly department on tackling fuel poverty and thus our committee is demonstrating much needed leadership.

”This serious issue affects over 40% of local people  and with winter approaching, fuel prices remaining at an all time high and the looming threat of benefit cuts under the welfare reform bill this problem will only get worse.

“In order to tackle this looming crisis head on I have asked the Committee to approach this issue in an imaginative way and bring together the eight departments who all have a part to play in addressing this issue.

“We will see the chairs of each department committee along with senior officials for these departments be joined by over 33 key stakeholders in this field ranging from Marie Curie, Access to Benefits, AGE NI, The Ulster Farmers Union to the Consumer Council and many more.

“Each department will be tasked with examining in depth what they have done, can do and intend to do within their respective areas working closely with the relevant stakeholders.

“The Assembly has never taken such a focused and as broad an initiative with this level of collaboration. This is a new  and innovative way of joined up government aimed at producing a truly comprehensive and far reaching strategy.

“In the Assembly we talk about fuel poverty and what we are doing about it. Instead if operating in individual silos this will help with a streamlined and holistic approach.” 

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