Monday, 15 December 2008

Executive Tackles Credit Crunch

They Work For You has a good summary of the decisions announced by Nigel Dodds and Peter Robinson from the Assembly today.

Available on link below

Friday, 12 December 2008

Fuel Poverty and the Executive

Hi sorry its been a while. Place is bit busy in run up to Christmas.

As some of you will be aware from the Lets Make Fuel Poverty History in Northern Ireland/Ireland facebook site things have been getting interesting in recent days. It started with questions to the First and Deputy First Minister on Monday that were being answered by Martin McGuinness. Several Alliance and SDLP MLAs asked why the Executive had not done anything about fuel poverty the response was a fairly non committal we will look at it at our earliest opportunity nothing was coming.

So after some pushing and prompting from some organisations and individuals the parties decided to talk about it at the Executive yesterday! So 176 days since the paper went to the Executive the games have stopped and the issue will be discussed.

Whilst we dont know any details of what will be announced (on Monday) we can guess that a contribution in the region of £150 - £200 will be paid into the electricity accounts of the most vulnerable in Northern Ireland. This will cost approximately £13m.

SDLP Leader Mark Durkan informs us today that there is expected to be an announcement next week on electricity costs being reduced by 10% not much more than a gesture when prices rose by 50%. Also Phoenix Gas prices are expected to be lowered by 20% in the run up to Christmas. So a few gifts to the fuel poor then.

It should be noted that these short term measures will do little to rid us of fuel poverty. This is going to take a massive leap forward in imagination and creativity from politicians, energy companies, charities and others.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Fuel Poverty and Facebook

To the one or two people who might look at this. Following on from the Obama campaign which was impressive in the use of the social media, including Facebook, I have set up a site on Fuel Poverty.

Its called 'Lets Make Fuel Poverty History in Northern Ireland/Ireland'. I hope you will join and send your ideas for action and register your support for calling on the Executive to do something.

Feel free to make suggestions! Thanks.

Monday, 1 December 2008

165 Days and Counting

165 days and Counting. This is the number of days that have gone by since the Executive has seriously considered the issue of fuel poverty.

It is estimated that fuel poverty is affecting at least 100,000 households across Northern Ireland. Given the temperatures in recent days it must be anticipated that a mixture of high energy prices and the weather will mean that many other households will be affected.

The Assembly will be briefed on a very timely and valuable report from Save the Children.They commissioned Professor Christine Liddell from University of Ulster to write a report ' The Impact of Fuel Poverty on Children'. In this report she highlights that

"The fuel poverty rate among families with children here is one of the highest in the developed world...Lone parent families are hardest hit."

So can our Assembly do anything about Fuel Poverty. For once the answer is yes.

The Minister of Social Development Margaret Ritchie has had a paper waiting to go before the Executive for several months. Elements of the paper will have direct financial benefits to the fuel poor as well as setting in place some measures to tackle the problem more widely. It was expected to be discussed last Thursday, however, it was not.

It has to look now very unlikely that any real effort to tackle fuel poverty will be made in time for Christmas. Come on Executive - sit down - talk - save lives in time for Christmas.