Help For 33,000 Homes In Fuel Poverty Says McCausland

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland has launched a new scheme that aims to tackle fuel poverty head on in 33,000 Northern Ireland homes.

The Affordable Warmth Scheme will provide energy efficiency improvement measures such as cavity wall insulation, draught proofing, new boiler installation and repairing or replacing ineffective window frames in privately owned and privately rented households throughout Northern Ireland who spend 25% or more of their income on energy costs.

dn_screenLaunching the scheme, Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland said: “Tackling fuel poverty is a key priority for the Northern Ireland Executive and my Department. The introduction of this scheme is further evidence of my commitment to tackling this very important issue for many households across Northern Ireland.”

The 33,000 households have been identified as being in most need, following a comprehensive mapping exercise led by the University of Ulster. These households will be actively contacted and offered help to reduce their energy costs and improve the thermal comfort of their home.

The Minister added: “Research has shown us that households who spend 25% plus of their income on energy cost, those considered to be in severe fuel poverty, do not take advantage of the help available to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. This scheme will take the support and advice directly to them.”

The Department for Social Development (DSD) is working in partnership with all local councils and the NI Housing Executive to deliver the scheme, which will be available from 15 September 2014. It will replace the Department’s Warm Homes Scheme which will come to an end on 31 March 2015. To qualify for the Affordable Warmth Scheme, the household income must be less than £20,000 gross per annum and includes all income of all owner occupiers.

The Minister continued: “Involvement in the Affordable Warmth scheme is of course voluntary but I would encourage householders to take up the opportunity this scheme offers. The launch follows two very successful pilots in Mid Ulster and Newtownabbey which provided energy inefficient households with much needed improvements, which made a positive impact to household fuel costs.”

To help maximise their income, householders may also be offered a referral to the Make the Call team for a Benefit Entitlement Check. The Minister added: “The Make the Call team is dedicated to ensuring that people of all ages, especially vulnerable and older people, receive all the money, services and support they are entitled to. In 2012/13, this service resulted in over 4,900 people receiving additional income of almost £17million.”