SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster, Patsy McGlone,
has warned that the absence of an Executive is preventing reform of the
Affordable Warmth Scheme.
Mr McGlone said, “The SDLP has been
lobbying the Department for Communities for changes to the Affordable Warmth
Scheme for some time.
“There has been widespread concern
that the present income threshold and the inclusion of benefits as income
has meant that many who are fuel poor, often with exacerbating health
problems, cannot access the scheme.
“Last year the Department proposed
several changes to the Affordable Warmth Scheme - including raising the
income threshold to £23,000 for households with more than one adult and
reducing it to £18,000 for all single person households, and that Disability
Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and
Carer’s Allowance would no longer be included in the calculation of income.
“However, a year later none of these
changes have been made.
“The Department appears to be
reluctant to implement the proposals in the absence of a functioning
Executive and Assembly.
“These are changes that have been
widely accepted as necessary to ensure that the Affordable Warmth Scheme
operates as intended, and that those in genuine need of assistance are not
“I have written to the Permanent
Secretary seeking an update on the Department’s position on the proposed
changes and will continue to lobby for their immediate implementation.”