New fuel scheme leaves working families in the cold

DUP MLA Stephen Dunne has said the new Energy Payment Support Scheme announced by Finance Minister Conor Murphy doesn't meet the needs of many people suffering from fuel poverty.

By Stephen Dunne MLA

North Down

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The North Down MLA said,

“The Communities Minister has been floundering for some time on tackling fuel poverty. Her initial scheme has been shambolic, and whilst this scheme will provide additional help it excludes many families who are struggling due to rocketing energy prices.

Using criteria based solely on an individual's receipt of other benefits excludes many working families. It will also see some households receive multiple payments whilst many others miss out entirely. The families who are sometimes referred to as the ‘squeezed middle’ continually miss out on multiple layers of support when eligibility is linked to other benefits rather than their assessed need.

Financial stress is not limited to those in receipt of benefits. In our low-income working households across Northern Ireland, which include many key workers, parents sometimes are forced to choose whether to heat or eat, or go without so their children’s most basic needs can be met. The challenge to the Minister is what she will now do for those working families?”

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