Charity renews call for action as new poll finds 45% of NI Households living in fuel poverty | Newry Times

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editor@newrytimes.com
Thursday, July 28th, 2022
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The Fuel Poverty Charity National Energy Action (NEA) is reiterating the call for NI politicians, policymakers, the Utility Regulator and the energy industry to form an emergency task force to address the energy crisis ahead of the coming winter, in an effort to reduce the pressure on thousands of NI households.

 

Charity renews call for action as new poll finds 45% of NI Households living in fuel poverty | Newry Times - down newspaper

 

NEA recently worked with polling company LucidTalk to survey households in Northern Ireland in a bid to understand the real impact of rising energy prices and the ongoing cost of living crisis.

The findings of the research paint a worrying picture with 45% of households now considered to be in fuel poverty.

This is significantly more than the rate depicted in official statistics.

 



 

In Northern Ireland a household is considered to be in fuel poverty if, in order to maintain a satisfactory level of heating throughout the home, the occupants would have to spend more than 10% of their income on all household fuel use.

The last official monitoring of the fuel poverty rate was carried out in 2016 and set the level at 22% with subsequent modelling by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive indicating a 2019 figure of around 24%.

Unlike the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland does not have any statuary targets for fuel Poverty and the last fuel poverty strategy was produced over a decade ago in 2011.

NEA are worried that this dramatic jump in fuel poverty will pile significant further pressures onto health and social care services in the coming winter.

 

 

There is an extensive body of evidence that demonstrates there is a direct correlation between cold homes and increased risk of circulatory and respiratory diseases.

Exposure to the cold also has a hugely detrimental impact on health and wellbeing, including mental health.

When asked if rising energy prices have had an impact on their household, 29% of respondents said that either their own health and wellbeing, or the health and wellbeing of someone within their household, had been impact by the cost-of-living crisis.

Stress and anxiety over rising prices have become common place in NI households with 17% of respondents admitting that they currently worry about how they can pay for their energy.

 


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A further 58% stated that they are worried about how they will afford their bills in the winter months ahead.

When asked if politicians in NI have been doing enough to address the cost of living crisis an overwhelming majority of respondents (85%) said no.

Commenting on the findings of the research Pat Austin, Director of NEA says, “The results of the research are stark and detail the worrying reality of the rising energy prices and the cost-of-living crisis for households in Northern Ireland.

“At NEA we have seen the impact first hand as we try and help the most vulnerable.

“I fear that if action isn’t taken soon, we could be leaving it too late and heading towards a very difficult winter.

“In the middle of summer, the winter months should the furthest thing from everyone’s mind but as our findings show many households are worried about how they will cope.

 

 

“At NEA we are really worried about the winter ahead.

“We know many households are going to find it difficult, and that in turn this will pile pressure onto our health and social care services.

“To cut to the bones of the matter, without action soon we will be looking at excess deaths this winter due to cold homes.

“Deaths that right now are preventable if we approach the issue with the urgency it deserves.

“We need to establish an emergency Fuel Poverty Taskforce with immediate effect to tackle this issue while we still can,” Pat adds.

 


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