Half of NI families living in fuel poverty - study

 

Half of all families in Northern Ireland could be living in fuel poverty, it was claimed today.

The high cost of domestic heating has left people facing a bleak and miserable Christmas, Save the Children added.

The fuel poverty rate among families with children in Ulster is one of the highest in the developed world.

Christine Liddell, professor of psychology at the University of Ulster, who drew up the report, The Impact of Fuel Poverty on Children, said: “The fuel poverty rate among families with children here is one of the highest in the developed world.

“Indeed, when compared to other UK regional areas, Northern Ireland has significantly higher rates. Lone parent families are hardest-hit.

“The human cost for families living in fuel poverty is high.”

The worst affected areas were Belfast and Fermanagh.

For infants, it means a 30 per cent greater risk of being admitted to hospital — and for older children, living in a fuel-poor home increases their vulnerability to respiratory problems.

Adolescents living in cold and damp households are at greater risk of mental health problems.

 “Save the Children’s main focus in Northern Ireland is to end child poverty and we are concerned that nearly one in three children is living in poverty," said Anne Moore, a spokeswoman for the charity.

PA