SDLP Councillor Eamonn O’Neill has welcomed the extension of the Housing Executive’s Boiler Replacement Scheme.
The scheme will now be open to those aged 70+, in receipt of Lone Pensioner Allowance and with a boiler aged 15 years or older and this is in addition to those already eligible.
Councillor Eamonn ONeill said, “I welcome the widening of the scope for this pilot scheme as it will include many more vulnerable people. I have been campaigning through my work on the Northern Ireland Housing Council for the extension of this scheme from the outset. Leaving it open to only those who receive rates relief but not Housing Benefit limited it to a very small number of people.
“There was £2 million set aside for this scheme and although some sources who didn’t understand the implications did welcome it, it was clear that the criteria was far too tight for a decent take up. The money was never going to be used and was going to be handed back to the Treasury.
“In recent times we have all seen the rising price of fuel and energy, and it is imperative that we do what we can now to help those who are vulnerable. Our elderly are among those experiencing the worst effects of fuel poverty and the money set aside for this scheme should be used to meet that need.
“That is why I am still not satisfied that the criteria are wide enough. I have argued that all those of pension age and in receipt of Housing Benefit should also be eligible. It would be tragic if money set aside for this specific purpose was not used especially giving the forecasts for this winter,” addded Councillor O’Neill.