Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Joined up thinking?

Posted on October 9, 2011 by stephennicholl • In the past two weeks several issues have arisen which show the inability of the current administration to deliver strategic governance for Northern Ireland. It was some surprise to learn that 60% of Northern Ireland Housing executive properties have only single glazing. Those who live in social housing are more likely to have less income and their ability to overcome fuel poverty is restricted. Further to this revelation came the announcement that Invest NI is to return over £17,000,000 to DFP. Given that DETI invests in creating jobs and the obvious need to upgrade in excess of 50,000 Housing executive properties, surely within the Northern Ireland executive someone will see the obvious overlap and benefits. The opportunity to create employment within the construction sector at the same time as addressing the long-term commitment to reducing fuel poverty seems too good to miss. Clearly the economic situation has reduced the opportunities for invest NI to promote new growth, that is not to say that they should not try but it does demand a flexible approach to job creation and meeting the wider needs of society. Fuel poverty places a significant burden on many families and as fuel costs increase this burden becomes greater to the point of impacting upon health and well-being. This creates greater demand for health services in an already overstretched health system. The costs of dealing with the impact of fuel poverty through the health service are far greater than the costs of dealing with inefficient heating systems and poorly insulated homes. The current boiler replacement scheme has attracted great interest but those qualifying for assistance are numbered only in hundreds yet the number of people affected by fuel poverty is measured in hundreds of thousands. No doubt there will be those in government who will tell us why such things cannot be done surely as a society we deserve a government who will tell us what can be done.

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