Friday, 9 January 2009

Just as it warms up

Just as the frosty weather clears for warm, wet and windy spells the Assembly will hear and finalise the details of the £15 million fuel poverty package on Monday for vulnerable Northern Ireland households.

Last week the Junior Ministers, Jeffrey Donaldson and Gerry Kelly met the Committee of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to get members’ buy-in.

Perhaps stung by criticism over the delays during the Executive’s huff, the two minsiters were keen to tell all that the fuel poverty was a deal that showed how the Executive could respond to situations.

Okay, we’ll not mention that heating fuel and petrol prices are at a three year low, compared to when the clamour for Assembly action was at its highest, and we can but hope that vulnerable households get this pay-out as soon as possible. It is a reminder, of course, that like the social security cold weather pay-out, sometimes support can come a little late.

Freezing temperatures across the UK triggered the pay-outs this week, but the extra cash only comes after consecutive days of sub-zero or near zero temperatures. And it does not take account in the temperature estimates of wind chill.

Which members will remember to mention these facts during Monday’s debate?

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