Almost half people in north of Ireland in fuel poverty

A charity highlighting fuel poverty in the north has reiterated its call for politicians, policy makers, the Utility Regulator and the energy industry to form an emergency taskforce to address the energy crisis ahead of the coming winter.

Fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) recently worked with polling company LucidTalk to survey households in NI in a bid to understand the real impact of rising energy prices and the ongoing cost of living crisis.

The findings paint a worrying picture with 45% of households now considered to be in fuel poverty, which, the charity says, is way above official statistics.

A household is considered to be in fuel poverty if, in order to maintain a satisfactory level of heating throughout the home, the occupants would have to spend more than 10% of their income on all household fuel use.

Unlike Britain, NI does not have any statutary targets for fuel poverty and the last fuel poverty strategy was produced over a decade ago in 2011.

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When asked if rising energy prices have had an impact on their household, 29% of respondents said that either their own health and wellbeing, or the health and wellbeing of someone within their household, had been impacted.

Stress and anxiety over rising prices have become common place, while 58% stated that they are worried about how they will afford their bills in the winter months ahead.

Pat Austin, Director of NEA said: “The results of the research are stark and detail the worrying reality of the rising energy prices and the cost-of-living crisis for households in Northern Ireland. At NEA we have seen the impact first hand as we try and help the most vulnerable. I fear that if action isn’t taken soon, we could be leaving it too late and heading towards a very difficult winter.

“In the middle of summer, the winter months should the furthest thing from everyone’s mind but as our findings show many households are worried about how they will cope.”

“We need to establish an emergency Fuel Poverty Taskforce with immediate effect to tackle this issue while we still can.”

When asked if politicians in NI have been doing enough to address the cost of living crisis an overwhelming majority of respondents (85%) said no.