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Sinn Féin urge greater take-up of Warm Homes Scheme

27 July, 2005


Sinn Féin anti-poverty spokesperson, North Belfast MLA Kathy Stanton speaking after meeting Bernadette Duffy from the EAGA partnership that manages the Warm Homes Scheme for the Department of Social Development has urged people to avail of the scheme and for those over 60 to take-up on the Warm Homes Plus Scheme.

Speaking after meeting Ms Duffy, the North Belfast Assembly member said:

"Fuel poverty is a very serious problem. It means that many people live with ill health and over 2000 people die a year as a result cold weather.

"The Warm Homes Scheme operated by EAGA entitles any householder with a child under the age of 16 in receipt of benefits, anyone in receipt of disability related benefits or householders who are over 60 and in receipt of benefits to a grant of £750 for a number of insulation measures.

"Warm Homes Plus is available for people over 60 who qualify with a total grant available of £3,700 for insulation and other heating measures including:

· Conversion of existing bottled gas, solid fuel central heating or Economy 7 to oil or gas

· Installation of a new energy efficient oil or gas central heating system

· Repair or upgrade of existing oil or gas central heating

"For people who qualify any costs over and above the maximum grant, the additional cost is taken from the Energy Efficiency Programme administered by NIE so that they do not have to make any financial contribution.

"Everyone should be aware of the extent of fuel poverty - 203,000 households or one third of homes across the north are at risk. The most vulnerable in our society - older people, families with young children and people with disabilities suffer most. The overall figure of 33% hides pockets of extreme fuel poverty. In North Belfast, 47% of households are in fuel poverty. This is unacceptable and reflects the extent of social exclusion and poverty that North Belfast has experienced over many years.

"It is important that people take-up these opportunities because improved insulation and oil or gas central heating can make a big difference in bringing down the cost of heating your home and to being able to keep your home warm.

"If you are entitled to it, you should make the most of it." ENDS

Note to Editors

Insulation measures available under the Warm Homes Scheme include:

· Cavity Wall Insulation

· Reflective Radiator Panels

· Loft Insulation

· Draught proofing for windows and doors

· Hot Water Tank Jackets

· Compact Fluorescent Lamps

· Energy Advice

The three main groups of householders eligible for the Warm Homes Scheme include:

1. Householders with a child under 16 in receipt of one or more of the following benefits

· Housing Benefit

· Rate Rebate

· Income Support

· Income Based Job Seekers Allowance

· Child Tax Credit & NHS Tax Exemption Certificate (including for children over 16 in full time education

· Expectant mothers in receipt of a Maternity certificate (MA B1) and one of the above benefits

2. Householders on receipt of one or more of the following disability related benefits

· Attendance Allowance

· War Disablement Pension (with Mobility Supplement or Constant Attendance Allowance)

· Disability Living Allowance

· Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (with Constant Attendance Allowance)

· Housing Benefit (with Disability Premium)

· Rate Rebate (with Disability Premium)

· Income Support (with Disability Premium)

· Working Tax Credit (with Disability Premium) & NHS Tax Exemption Certificate

3. Householders over 60 and in receipt of one or more of the following benefits, WHO ARE ALSDO ELIBIBLE FOR THE WARM HOMES PLUS SCHEME:

· Rate Rebate

· Housing Benefit

· Pension Credit

· Income Based Job Seekers Allowance

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