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Community Upper Bann

New Energy Scheme a Step Forward, But Working Households Need Support Too! – Lockhart

Local Member of Parliament Carla Lockhart has said the creation of a new £55m energy scheme by the Northern Ireland Executive is a welcome step to support those in fuel poverty but has called on the Communities Minister Deidre Hargey MLA to step up with support for working families who are struggling with the heating their homes.

Carla Lockhart said:

“It has taken some time for the Communities Minister to step up with support for those in fuel poverty.

The initial scheme has been beset with problems, with the shambolic application process causing great distress to those in desperate need of fuel to heat their homes.

This latest announcement of a £55m scheme is welcome, as is the automatic nature of payment to those in receipt of certain benefits. However, once again the Minister has turned a blind eye to the plight of working families.

The current scheme is designed in a way that will see some households receive multiple payments whilst many others miss out entirely. The ‘squeezed middle’ continually miss out on multiple layers of support when eligibility is linked to other benefits rather than their assessed need. This is wrong.

My colleagues at Stormont are taking this up with the Minister and I hope she will listen, and act soon to provide equitable support for all those struggling.”

ENDS

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