Communities Minister should extend the Emergency Fuel Payment Scheme – Allen

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Communities Minister should extend the Emergency Fuel Payment Scheme – Allen

East Belfast Ulster Unionist MLA and Communities spokesperson, Andy Allen MBE, has called on the Communities Minister to extend the end date and eligibility criteria of the Emergency Fuel Payment Scheme administered by Bryson Charitable Group.

Mr Allen said:

“For months I have been calling on the Communities Minister to establish a fuel poverty task force to develop short, medium and long-term solutions in response to the energy and wider cost of living crisis and fuel poverty – I am repeating that call today.

“There is no doubt many households are being pushed beyond the brink by the cost of living crisis, therefore, we must work with all stakeholders to assess and develop options to provide meaningful support. Regrettably, there is limited time left in the current mandate and without a functioning Executive, no new schemes or allocations can be considered. It is therefore imperative we work to tailor existing schemes such as the emergency fuel payment scheme, to try and alleviate some of the impact on hard-pressed households.

“The United Kingdom is in the middle of a cost of living crisis, worse than anything experienced in decades and the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s measures announced today fall well short of what is needed. This is before we factor in the unacceptable situation of Northern Ireland being left adrift on the reduction in VAT for energy efficiency measures - caused by the Protocol. This unacceptable situation needs to be promptly resolved.

“The tens of thousands of individuals and families struggling across Northern Ireland deserve better – we all need to come together to find a meaningful solution to this crisis.”