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Fuel poverty puts families at risk

Posted on May 15, 2008 at 05:08 PM

Fuel Poverty Consultation - Deputy Liz McManus chairing our Fuel Poverty Consultation
Deputy Liz McManus chairing our Fuel Poverty Consultation

Today's Fuel Poverty Consultation was a great success. The Party Leader, Eamon Gilmore TD opened the session to a mixed audience which comprised of key representatives from across the energy and poverty sectors. (You can read Eamon's contribution in our media centre.)

The purpose of the Consultation was to discuss Labour's Fuel Poverty and Energy Conservation Bill 2008 which aims to commit the Minister for Energy to setting targets and implementing a strategy to address the rising problem of fuel poverty. At present it is estimated that up to 100,000 households experience real difficulty in heating their homes to an adequate, safe level.

Representatives from groups such as St. Vincent de Paul, Combat Poverty Agency and the Institute of Public Health along with representative from the Energy Regulator (CER), the National Consumer Agency, Age Action Ireland and Sustainable Energy Ireland spoke of their experience on the ground of this increasing problem.

The situation is urgent and is set to worsen in light of reports of rising gas and electricity prices. In particular fears exist for next winter and the inability of low income households to pay their utility bills.

As our high winter mortality rates are very much linked to poor quality housing both in social housing and private rented accommodation the need for improved insulation schemes along with increased fuel allowance schemes is vital. Today's Consultation is a first step in increasing awareness of this issue and putting pressure on the Government to act."

Deputy Liz McManus TD

Spokesperson on Energy

So what is 'fuel poverty' - fuel poverty refers to the inability to heat ones home to an adequate level. People living in fuel poverty are living in cold, damp, energy inefficient housing. The accepted definition of fuel poverty is when there is a need to spend greater than 10% of the household income on fuel to achieve an acceptable level of warmth.

You can read Liz's statement on today's consultation, again in our media centre. In addition some photographs from the event are up on Flickr.

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