THE Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston, has given his support to a campaign highlighting the harsh reality of families and households living in fuel poverty.
Every winter millions of people across the UK struggle to stay warm and healthy at home. Rising energy costs, low incomes and energy inefficient homes leave them unable to afford even basic household essentials like energy, food and heating.
Living in a cold home can have a range of impacts on physical and mental health and treating cold-related illness is estimated to cost the NHS in Northern Ireland £40m a year.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has made the situation even more difficult for so many, as household finances are squeezed further, and health conditions such as asthma and COPD, which are worsened by cold homes, placing people at greater risk from the virus.
This year, on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council (MEABC), joined the charity National Energy Action (NEA) Northern Ireland to raise awareness of the issue and encourage people to seek the help that is available to keep them warm at home.
The Mayor said: “Families and individuals right across Northern Ireland are facing into another winter living in fuel poverty, and it is vital that we continue to highlight the situation and call for better ways of addressing this issue for the many thousands of people affected.
“Council is privileged to support NEA Northern Ireland in their campaign, and anyone who would like to find out more about the advice and services provided by the charity, can do so by visiting their website at www.nea.org.uk/northernireland”
Pat Austin, Director of NEA Northern Ireland, added: “Some ‘160,000 households in Northern Ireland are in fuel poverty and dreading the onset of the cold weather, with no idea of the support that may be available to them.
“While we commend Government for the recent introduction, we still need to highlight that more much needs done and by working together, we can get help to those who need it most, ensuring that people can live in a warm and safe home this winter.”