A block has been placed on a home insulation scheme set up to address fuel poverty in the private sector. A delay has been placed by the Department for Communities on the Affordable Warmth Scheme – the scheme was set up to provide home insulation, draught proofing, heating and boiler replacements.
The Mid-Ulster MLA, Patsy McGlone said, “The scheme when it was first set up proved very popular and useful to people on lower income and who could have done with some help to heat their homes or improve their existing heating.
“Thankfully we did not have a very cold winter and spring this year, nevertheless heating a house is getting very expensive and fuel poverty is a real issue for so many people. However, to find now that the Department has placed a delay on approvals due to financial constraints is very worrying, particularly in instances where people have disabilities and poor health within a household.
“I have written to the Department for Communities and the Department for Finance asking that finance be released for this scheme so that work may be carried out, whether insulation or heating works, before the winter months set in and people, especially on low income, become more susceptible to the cold weather again.
“While every answer may not rest within a devolved Executive, it would be safe enough to say that were local Ministers in charge, we might not have arrived at this point where the most vulnerable in society are placed further at risk from cold-related health conditions”