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Cold comfort

Plea to NI govt: pay OAPs warm homes cash
Donal O'Cofaigh, Friday, December 16th, 2016

Worried about heating costs this winter? Looks like it will be worse for pensioners in Northern Ireland – the UK’s only region where older persons are unable to access the £140 discount towards home heating costs.


In light of the recent exposé of the Renewable Heating Incentive scandal, Unite equalities officer, Taryn Trainor, called on the Northern Ireland Executive to show as much concern for the heating of pensioner homes as they have for heating Ferrari showrooms and empty sheds.


Trainor said, “In recent days, there has been widespread shock at the enormous costs that are associated with the delivery of the Renewable Heating Incentive scheme.


“What’s not perhaps recognised is that while hundreds of millions have been committed to heating Ferrari showrooms and empty agricultural sheds, pensioners in Northern Ireland are suffering disadvantage even compared to those in other parts of the UK.”


She continued, “In all other parts of the UK, pensioners benefit from an additional £140 warm homes discount which is taken off their bills and recovered by the energy companies through a marginal increase to wider tariffs.


“Thanks to our inclement climate and low average incomes, Northern Ireland suffers some of the highest rates of fuel poverty in the UK – standing at 42 per cent. And yet our pensioners are the only ones in the UK who are excluded from this scheme.


“Unite and our retired members have repeatedly sought the extension of this scheme to Northern Ireland but have been told it is too expensive. And yet the cost pales into insignificance against the £485m estimated as the cost of the Renewable Heating Incentive scandal.


“Unite is calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to act now to ensure the adoption of this scheme immediately, so that our pensioners don’t have to choose between heating and eating this winter,” Trainor concluded.


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