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Sinn Féin to meet Hanson over failure to tackle fuel poverty

26 June, 2006


Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Poverty, North Belfast MLA Kathy Stanton will head a delegation including fuel poverty and anti-poverty NGO's to meet with British Direct Rule Social Development Minister David Hanson today, Monday 26th June, at 2.30pm at Castle Buildings to discus the issue of fuel poverty and demand the publication of the New Targeting Social Need (NTSN) policy.

Speaking ahead of the meeting Ms Stanton said:

"The levels of fuel poverty in the north are a disgrace. While British direct rule ministers tinker at the edges the problem continues to get

worse.

"Last week the cost of coal went up by 6.4%. Electricity went up by nearly 11% in March, and the cost of heating oil and natural gas are both increasing at rates far outstripping inflation.

"More and more people are being pushed into fuel poverty. Fuel poverty affects 1 in 3 and each year over 1000 older people die because of cold weather.

"The most vulnerable members of our community are most at risk from fuel poverty. Older people, people with disabilities, young parents, long-term sick and low-income families are being put at even greater risk because there is no political will to prioritise funding to tackle fuel poverty.

"At the same time the overall cost of living continues to increase and there are huge increases in rates and the threat of water charges. 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.

"Sinn Féin also 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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