£1 a Litre Heating Oil is a Scandal

4 06 2013

20 litre oil drum

Families who run out of heating oil and cannot afford to refill in bulk will fork out £19.99 for a 20 litre drum which works out at £1 a litre.  If they can get their hands on a drum and fill it onsite and carry it home the price falls to 80p a litre which is still 40% more than the cost of having it delivered to your home in larger quantities.

 East Derry SDLP Assembly Member John Dallat has described the practice of hiking the price of heating oil to the most vulnerable people in society in small quantities as distasteful and scandalous.

 He said:

 “Fuel poverty is now one of the most serious issues facing the most vulnerable people in society.  In the main these are families with young children and the elderly.  42% of children with families are now experiencing severe fuel poverty while half of those over 60 are in a similar situation.

 “There is no justification for hiking the price of heating oil to such levels when it is clear that there are no added expenses incurred by the retailer.  Can you imagine the outrage there would be if motorists were told the cost of petrol or diesel would be jacked up because it is filled at the pump?

 “The appearance of oil drums in forecourts priced at *£19.99 for 20 litres cannot be justified and is best described as a rip-off.  With 68% of people totally dependent on oil the issue of price control is ever greater.

 “I have tabled a written question to the Minister for Social Development highlighting this rip-off and asking what plans he has to bring some kind of supervision and control to the oil industry which will protect the most vulnerable people in society who find themselves depending on oil drums as the only means of affording this kind of fuel.”

Theft of oil from church property criminal and ‘sacrilegious’

23 02 2013

Oil tank
SDLP Moyle District Councillor Dónal Cunningham has condemned the recent spate of theft of heating oil from homes but also the thefts from churches and church halls in the Ballycastle area.
He said: “For the scond time in the space of 9 or 10 months we have witnessed the thefts from local churches and church property which places along side the thefts from private homes points to a level of co-ordination and organisation. The Ballycastle community are rightly outraged by these actions. In my view theft from family homes is y totally reprehensible while theft from any faith community is both sacrilegious as well as criminal. I express my disgust at all of these incidents.
“There should be no place for this type of activity in Ballycastle. I will be pressing the local police for results and hope that those who were involved are caught and shamed before the courts for what they have done.”
“I would also urge people to exercise caution and be vigilante when it comes to their property and oil tanks.”

Keep warm this winter

20 12 2012

Old lady keeps warm
Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has echoed the advice of Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride in calling for people particularly the elderly to stay safe, warm and healthy throughout the winter months.
“Keeping our homes warm is important, always keep the main rooms such as the living room and bedroom warm. Warm clothing and hot drinks will help prevent the most vulnerable people falling ill this winter.”
“The Chief Medical Officer advises that: “Keeping warm over the winter months can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia, and depression.”
Dr McBride concluded: “Older people and those with long term illnesses are particularly vulnerable to the cold and we need to be aware of how we can help others when the winter temperatures drop. We all need to work together to ensure that everyone is kept safe and warm in winter. If you have an elderly or vulnerable friend or neighbour, look out for them during the winter months.”

Cunningham encourages older people to find out what they are entitled to

3 12 2012



With up to £2.3 million of Pension Credit unclaimed every week, Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham is encouraging older people to find out what benefits they are entitled to.

He added “The problem is that many older people don’t know what they are entitled to; very often the complexity of the benefit system puts people off; and many find the benefits system too complicated”.

 However there are many advice services only too willing to assist.

 “I would encourage older people to contact the Age NI Advice Line on freephone 0808 808 7575 for a free benefits check. An Age NI advisor will speak to them in confidence and help them find out what they are entitled to. Alternatively Councillor Cunningham can be contacted on 07745168922 to assist with any enquiries”

Fuel Poverty Petition

15 12 2011

The Fuel Poverty Coalition has launched a petition “calling on the Assembly Executive to tackle comprehensively fuel poverty in the final Programme for Government 2011-2015.” The petition also asks the NI Executive and Assembly “to include in the Programme for Government a commitment to develop a detailed and costed action-plan setting out how and when fuel poverty will be eradicated in Northern Ireland; and provide continued support to households in severe fuel poverty to stay warm until fuel poverty is eradicated.”

The petition will coincide with the consultation period for the draft Programme for Government 2011-2015 (PfG). The aim is to generate public support for our key asks, which we believe will strengthen the Coalition’s response to the draft PfG.

Members of the public can sign the petition on the revamped website, www.fuelpovertycoalition.org.uk . Those who do not have access to the internet can also sign our petition using a freepost Fuel Poverty Coalition petition postcard. In order to minimise the cost and to avoid delays producing the postcards we are using the Consumer Council’s freepost address.

Cold Cruel Cuts for Older People this Winter

11 12 2011

The Fuel Poverty Coalition has hit out at the cuts to the Winter Fuel Payment that have been imposed by Westminster.
Despite numerous campaigns from a range of organisations including the Fuel Poverty Coalition, Winter Fuel Payments have been slashed by £50 or £100, depending on the household. This is taking place following two of the
coldest winters on record and at a time when energy costs have never been higher.

Pat Austin, joint Chair of the Fuel Poverty Coalition, which has a base of around 150 organisations from across the North representing local councils, voluntary, community, business and faith groups, said: ‘the cut to the Winter Fuel Payment is a national scandal which will have huge impacts for the health and well being of our older people. The payment went some way to protecting the most vulnerable and those who have taken this decision should be hanging their heads in shame’
The cuts have been introduced in the North despite the region having the highest incidence of fuel poverty in the UK. Also, older people in the North are further disadvantaged as they are not entitled to a Warm Homes Discount of £120 which is payable to GB pensioners on low income. The Fuel Poverty Coalition is calling on the NI Executive to use the Social Protection Fund to reduce these inequalities in the first instance and develop a plan setting out how and when fuel poverty will be eradicated in the North.
Concluding Antoinette McKeown, joint Chair of the Fuel Poverty Coalition said: “the cuts to the Winter Fuel Payments are not only unfair on our older people, but they could not have come at a worse time when the energy bills for the majority of households here are around £1,100 higher than the highest energy bill in GB1. The focus now must be on
the Executive and its Programme for Government 2011-2015 to ensure our older people receive the required support to keep their homes warm this winter”

Moyle Council votes to support the Fuel Poverty Coalition

11 10 2011



Moyle District Council at their meeting on 10th October voted unanimously to support the Fuel Poverty Coalition.

Households are considered to be in ‘fuel poverty’ if they would have to spend more than 10% of their household income on fuel to keep their home in a ‘satisfactory’ condition.

It is a disgrace that in the 21st Century, due primarily to the soaring energy prices people are being forced into having to choose between heating their homes or eating.

The  Fuel Poverty Coalition is calling on the Assembly Executive to put its Fuel Poverty strategy back on track and to ensure that everything reasonably practicable is done to eliminate fuel poverty here.

Therefore, the  Fuel Poverty Coalition is calling on the Assembly Executive to:

1. Develop a detailed and costed action-plan setting out how and when Fuel Poverty will be eradicated
2. Provide Support to all fuel poor households to stay warm until Fuel Poverty is eradicated

 Fuel Poverty will be one of the great struggles faced in society in the next 10 years.  There appears no light at the end of the tunnel – just a bleak cold existence for so many of our fellow citizens.