Persistently high levels Fuel Poverty make a mockery of Hanson's claims
Sinn Féin anti-poverty spokesperson, North Belfast MLA Kathy Stanton has said that the persistent high levels of fuel poverty that exist in the Six Counties make a mockery of the claims by British Direct Rule Social Development Minister David Hanson that he is committed to doing all in his poverty to eradicate it.
Ms Stanton was speaking after the publication of the Warm Homes Scheme annual report 2004/05 in Stormont. Ms Stanton said:
"Everyone should be concerned at 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.
"The failure to tackle fuel poverty is the result of the failure of direct rule ministers to prioritise action to tackle fuel poverty.
"The warm home scheme is an excellent initiative in itself. But alone it is not enough.
"Fuel poverty is a combination of poor energy efficiency, low incomes and high fuel costs. The problem of fuel poverty needs to be given leadership at the highest level.
"However, while political leadership can get positive results it is clear that Direct Rule has not provided that leadership. When we had the Assembly up and running and locally mandated and accountable ministers we saw leadership. We saw the energy efficiency levy approved. Without progress on restoring the institutions many will remain unconvinced that Direct Rule is prepared to make this a priority.
"The persistently high levels of fuel poverty that exist in the Six Counties makes a mockery of David Hanson's that he is committed to doing all in his poverty to eradicate it. This is the cost of Direct Rule." ENDS