A Waterside councillor has called for a new body to be set up in Derry to tackle fuel poverty.
Sinn Féin representative Bridget Meehan called for the establishment of a fuel poverty forum to help the 30 per cent of households in the city experiencing problems with rising energy costs.
She made the call following a fuel poverty seminar in the city hosted by Maeve McLaughlin MLA.
Colr. Meehan said: “In the Derry City Council area specifically, 30% of households are in fuel poverty and 26% of households with children are in fuel poverty. Overall, the North has higher expenditure on energy bills than Britain, paying £2,114 a year for heating and electricity which is more than double the highest energy bill in Britain. There has been a 64% rise in home heating costs over the last 5 years. Low household incomes, rising fuel costs as well as poor insulation and inefficient heating systems all contribute to fuel poverty. As the cost of fuel continues to rise, this chronic problem can only get worse with people having to decide whether to ‘heat or eat’”
The Waterside representative also new ideas should be considered. “The seminar discussed ideas to alleviate fuel poverty such as an area-based energy efficiency programme such as the Affordable Warmth pilot project rolled out in some council areas in the North, home heating oil syndicates, switching energy suppliers, for example.
“It was agreed a Fuel Poverty Forum would be set up in Derry to put a focus on tackling fuel poverty,” she said.