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New fuel poverty figures ‘Shocking’

21 March, 2007

Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has said the latest Fuel Poverty figures released by the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes (EEPH) are shocking.

Ms Anderson said:

"The latest findings in a report commissioned by the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes (EEPH) are shocking .It found that more than 1.7 million new households have been plunged into fuel poverty in the last two years amid soaring utility bills.

"The report also found that at present nearly three million households spend more than 10% of their income on electricity and gas - classifying them as fuel poor. The research indicated that the British Government and utility companies have failed to tackle the problem of fuel poverty and are not reaching their own targets on the eradicating fuel poverty.

"It also found that a surge of nearly 40% in electricity prices and 61% in gas prices between 2003 and 2006 had plunged an extra 1.73 million households into fuel poverty. Yet, levels of fuel poverty in this part of Ireland are even greater than in England, Scotland or Wales.

"People living in the North of Ireland know only too well the high price of fuel costs and many households are struggling to meet energy bills. Wages here are much lower than the average used in many of these studies and the differential in pay is not matched nor is there a rise in benefits to offset those higher costs.

"Its clear there is a need for more than the current winter fuel payments; fuel poverty is affecting all sections of society. Keeping your home warm and comfortable should not become a luxury it should be right .People should not be faced with the unenviable choice of deciding whether to heat their homes or provide for their family." ENDS

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