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NI Minister says no to boiler scrappage scheme

Plumbers merchants in Northern Ireland are likely to lose out as it appears the province is the only part of the United Kingdom not to operate a Boiler Scrappage Scheme.
A statement yesterday in the Northern Ireland Assembly, by Minister for Social Development Margaret Ritchie MLA indicated that there is unlikely to be a similar scheme to those operating in England, Wales and Scotland.

However, the Assembly is investigating the possibility of a scheme to reduce fuel poverty.

Ritchie’s comments came during a debate on a motion tabled by the Democratic Unionist Party’s Simon Hamilton MLA. The motion called upon Minister Ritchie to consider the introduction of a Boiler Scrappage Scheme in Northern Ireland, similar to the English one, announced in the PreBudget Report on December 9 2009.

Ritchie said: “Although I support a local boiler scrappage scheme similar to the English model, my first concern, as Minister with responsibility for the fuel poverty strategy, is the alleviation of fuel poverty in vulnerable households. I accept that improving the energy efficiency of households that have old or inefficient boilers will contribute to the alleviation of fuel poverty.

“However, any such scheme that I introduce will target vulnerable households in which people live in fuel poverty; it will not focus solely on reducing carbon emissions, as is the case with the scheme in England.

“A boiler replacement scheme should not be delivered on a first-come, first-served basis. Given the limited availability of resources in the current economic climate, I must ensure that resources are specifically targeted at those who are most in need. I have reservations about introducing a scheme that would require those on the lowest income to provide an additional £1,000, at the very least, towards the cost of installing a new and efficient boiler.

“The boiler replacement scheme that I will propose as part of the new fuel poverty strategy will not require households to make a financial contribution. I will take on board the comments made during the public consultation process in the spring.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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