21st October 2010

Action plan to eradicate fuel poverty needed now

The Consumer Council has expressed deep concern at figures released today by the Department of Social Development[1], which show a sharp rise in the number of Northern Ireland households in fuel poverty[2].  The figures reveal that 300,000(44 per cent) households are struggling to keep warm; this is a 29 per cent increase change on the last official figures issued in 2006.  Those living in rented accommodation or social housing[3] are the worst effected, with one-in-two households suffering from Fuel Poverty.

John French, Head of Energy at the Consumer Council said: “These latest fuel poverty statistics are worrying in the current climate; since 2006 a further 74,000 homes have slipped into fuel poverty.  It is clear that the existing Warm Homes Scheme and benefit schemes are insufficient to deal with the scale of the problem.

 “The Consumer Council is calling on Government to review how it can maximise the help and support it provides to households who are in Fuel Poverty and develop a costed action plan setting out how Fuel Poverty in Northern Ireland will be eradicated.  Following yesterday’s Comprehensive Spending Review, we recognise that less money is available but with around 1,000 people in Northern Ireland dying from cold related illnesses each year[4], the Government cannot ignore the very real effects a cold home creates.  The Consumer Council is committed to making the consumer voice heard and we will continue to work with Government and energy stakeholders to find solutions to eradicate fuel poverty in Northern Ireland”. 

  1. Consumer Council media contact: Grainne Duffy, telephone, 028 9067 4813 or e-mail, [email protected]  
  2. The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland’s consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about buses, trains, planes, ferries, natural gas, electricity, coal and water.
  3. For more information, visit our website at

[1]DSD News Release – Attwood Responds to Chancellor’s Public Sector Review Statement– 20 October 2010

[2]If more than 10% of a person’s income is spent on energy then they are deemed to be in fuel poverty.

[3]55% of people living in private rented accommodation are in fuel poverty and,
51% of people living in social housing are in fuel poverty.

[4]Excess Winter Deaths Summary 1974-75 to 2008-09 NISRA (March 2010), 2001-02 = 224, 2008-09 = 1044