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Thursday, 2 October 2014

The Green Party in Northern Ireland has reacted with shock and anger to a new Housing Executive report highlighting the scandal of poorly insulated homes.
North Down Green Party Councillor Professor John Barry said: “This is one of the most shocking reports I have read.  
“It documents the shameful reality of thousands of people living in sub-standard housing across Northern Ireland.  
“The report found that only 9% of the houses surveyed were of an adequate thermal standard, which means the vast majority of Housing Executive properties are ‘hard to heat’ homes.  
“This explains why people are in fuel poverty, since they have to spend more and more of their money on trying to heat their home, much of the heat escaping from the house.  
Hard earned income is literally going up in smoke
“It also explains why so many Housing Executive tenants have health problems that are directly related to living in sub-standard housing.  
“This report gives a telling insight into why Northern Ireland has the highest proportion of people living in fuel poverty in the UK. 
“That’s why the Green Party has continually and consistently pushed to move away from expensive, imported fossil fuels towards combination of improved energy efficiency and increased generation from local, renewable energy sources, as the way to tackle fuel poverty.   
“We argued for a ‘Green New Deal’ (GND) back in 2008 as a way of dealing with hard to heat homes.
“If the GND had have been adopted by the Executive we could have reduced fuel poverty and tackled the health-related problems of hard to heat homes while providing employment opportunities in insulating our social housing stock.  
“But we now see the outcomes of the Executive’s decision not to support a Green New Deal program.  
“What is even more shocking is the fact that the Housing Executive has not published any recommendations from the report. 
“Normally with such reports, problems are identified and a series of recommendations made about how to solve them but this report does not have these.
“While the Housing Executive is not to blame for the poor quality of insulation, most of which was done in the 1980s, they have a responsibility and a duty of care for addressing and solving this legacy issue now.  
“As the report states: “The level of poorly insulated homes is extremely concerning and has major social implications in terms of energy costs, health, social and environmental issues. It serves no purpose within this report to try to apportion blame for this phenomenon but to realise the issue is real and present and needs attention for those suffering in certain homes.”
“I call upon the Housing Executive to clarify why the report was published without the recommendations. 
“This report is in line with other reports from the University of Ulster and the insulation industry about the dangerous levels of sub-standard housing in Northern Ireland in terms of thermal efficiency and heat retention.  
“Urgent action is needed now by the Housing Executive and the Department for Social Development to ensure thousands of people are no longer forced to live in sub-standard housing, getting them deeper into fuel poverty and causing ill health.
“This report is a wake-up call to the Housing Executive, the Northern Ireland Executive in general and the new Minister for Social Development.
“Why are so many of our citizens living in sub-standard housing?  
“This is a disgrace in the 21st century and a modern scandal.”
42% of people in Northern Ireland, as compared with 15% in England live in fuel poverty, meaning they spend more than 10% of their income heating their home to an acceptable level.
The report verifies that the sample size of 206 houses is statistically robust to take the sample as a broad indicator of the state of cavity wall insulation across the entire NI Housing Executive stock of 89,000 houses.  The report states: ‘the Project Advisory Group agreed that it (206 houses) still provided a statistically sound sample which would provide a broad indication of the quality of cavity wall insulation in Housing Executive properties.”
For further information contact:
Green Party in Northern Ireland Press Officer Joanna BraniffT: 028 90521141M: 0780 8862141