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Minister 'must implement Affordable Warmth Scheme reform proposals'

SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster, Patsy McGlone, has again urged the Minister for Communities to implement proposed reform of the Affordable Warmth Scheme.

Minister 'must implement Affordable Warmth Scheme reform proposals'

SDLP Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone.

SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster, Patsy McGlone, has again urged the Minister for Communities to implement proposed reform of the Affordable Warmth Scheme.

The Mid Ulster MLA was responding to an Assembly written answer from the Minister to a question he had submitted on the delayed reform.

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 current income threshold and the inclusion of benefits as income has meant that many who are fuel poor, often with exacerbating health problems, could not access the scheme.

“The Department for Communities own consultation found significant support for the proposed reform of the Affordable Warmth Scheme.

“But in the absence of an Executive the Department appeared reluctant to implement changes to the scheme - including adjusting the income threshold, and ensuring that Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Carer’s Allowance would no longer be included in the calculation of income.

“Rather than introducing further delay it is essential that the Minister now takes control of the reform of the Affordable Warmth Scheme and secures Executive approval for the proposed changes.

“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 unfairly excluded.

“I will continue to lobby the Minister for the immediate implementation of the proposed reform of this important scheme.”

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