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Coal Price Increase will push more into fuel poverty

23 June, 2006


Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Poverty, North Belfast MLA Kathy Stanton has said that the 6.4 per cent average increase in coal prices announced today will hit the thousands of people who rely on coal for their heating very hard and warned that it will push even greater numbers of people into fuel poverty.

Kathy Stanton will meet British Direct Rule Minister David Hanson on Monday to discus the issue of fuel poverty and demand the publication of the New Targeting Social Need (NTSN) policy.

Ms Stanton said:

"While fewer people are using coal it remains an important fuel source for thousands of people, particularly those who are living on a low income and unable to switch to more economic and efficient heating systems.

"There was also an 10.8% increase electricity prices back in March and substantial increases in the prices of both heating oil and gas this year.
The accumulative impact of these increases on people on the low incomes will be to push even greater numbers of people into fuel poverty.

"This latest increase comes against a backdrop of sustained increases in the cost of living and increases in rates and the threat of water charges.

"The number of children living in poverty is reaching epidemic proportions and hundreds of older people are dying unnecessarily each year as a result of the cold. We need to see a genuine strategy that will tackle poverty and eliminate fuel poverty because increasing numbers of people are being caught in the poverty trap and are facing choices about whether to pay bills or buy food. This is totally unacceptable.

"Sinn Féin will be meeting the British Minister responsible for tackling poverty on Monday next week along with a number of anti-poverty organisations and demanding action. We believe that we need to see the publication of the New Targeting Social Need Policy as soon as possible so that we can judge the real commitment of British Direct Rule to comprehensively tackle poverty and effectively skew resources and target need on an objective basis." ENDS

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