Tuesday 2 December 2014
Age Sector Platform says more needs to be done to tackle fuel poverty for the most vulnerable, after figures released during the last week show over five hundred older people died last winter of cold related illnesses in Northern Ireland.
The call comes as the results of the 2014 NI Pensioners Parliament are unveiled – results that show that Keeping Warm in Winter remains the top issue of concern for pensioners across Northern Ireland. This year’s report reveals that three out of every four pensioners here are very concerned with the cost of heating their homes – and the newly released excess winter deaths figures show that it can really be a life and death issue.
Today, Ministers from the Northern Ireland Executive will be quizzed by pensioners from across the province on topics including fuel poverty as part of a ‘Question Time’ style event in the Senate Chamber in Parliament Buildings.
Michael Monaghan, Chair of the NI Pensioners Parliament, commented: “Unfortunately, the findings of our report are of no surprise. During the last four years of the Pensioners Parliament, the number one concern for older people has continued to be keeping warm in winter. Even more worrying is the fact that around five hundred older people dying each winter due to the cold is also becoming a consistent trend. This situation can only be described as a crisis.”
Second Class Citizens
“Pensioners in Northern Ireland feel like second class citizens because of their exclusion from an important fuel poverty scheme that includes the rest of the UK, and today we want Executive Ministers to outline a determined plan of action on how that will be addressed. In order to rectify the situation whereby Northern Ireland was excluded from the Warm Home Discount, we need strong support and representation from Executive Ministers. Our Westminster Government should not be permitted to discriminate against vulnerable households in Northern Ireland, and the Northern Ireland Executive must advocate strongly on our behalf.”
“Fuel poverty in Northern Ireland is higher than any other part of the UK, and it is a problem which is the responsibility of several government departments. We want to see our Executive working together to help vulnerable households in Northern Ireland afford their energy bills. Today both the Department for Social Development and the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister will be asked questions in relation to fuel poverty; and we look forward to hearing what they have to say about how their departments can help to reduce heating bills and protect the most vulnerable.”
Download a copy of the 2014 Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament Report below: