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Thermal insulation 'drives decline in NI fuel poverty'

Northern Ireland's social development minister Nelson McCausland has welcomed the reduction in fuel poverty reported across the country.

He noted that this is down to the work carried out in the past 12 months, which saw more than £37 million invested in insulation, double-glazing and other energy-efficiency measures.

According to the Home Energy Conservation Authority, the number of homeowners who have struggled to pay their utility bills dropped from 44 per cent in 2009 to 42 per cent in 2011, with 14,000 fewer households suffering.

The minister added: "I have said before the issue of fuel poverty is not one we can overcome overnight, but something that will take time and innovative thinking to tackle."

Around 250,000 vulnerable energy customers have received funding from the Northern Ireland Executive in the form of a one-off fuel allowance and the body has also promised to double-glaze 30,000 properties by 2015.

Mr McCausland said that alongside the installation of thermal insulation, further work is already underway to introduce a pay-as-you-go metering system for oil use, an affordable warmth initiative and an energy brokering programme.

Posted by Simon Webster