Minister feather beds middle classes rather than tackle fuel poverty…

This is a fascinating little vignette from Julia Paul and Hearts and Minds (again) on the DSD’s decision not to implement a Green New Deal package, because, in the fairly accurate analysis of SF MLA Phil Flanagan, it was just too innovative for senior civil servants at DSD.

This is interesting, not least because it was well thought out project that had wide support from the Unions, the voluntary sector, and the CBI. It involved a complex system in which much of the costs would be contained within a longer timeframe that the twelve month accountancy period of the DSD…

It’s certainly not Minister Nelson McCausland’s best moment, when Julia Paul has to winkle of him that he had not taken any representations from the team that had put together the package to see if it could be tweaked to make it acceptable.

The real killer, and why Flanagan who has been prominent in talking about Northern Ireland persistent problem of fuel poverty was chosen to speak on the matter, is that the boiler replacement scheme has no chance of actually dealing with that problem.

The grant (which is money that goes out and won’t come back) is £1000. A decent new generation boiler costs £2200. That’s a shortfall of £1200. Who who can afford to raise that shortfall can truly be said to be suffering from ‘fuel poverty’.

If anything this is in danger of further feather bedding the middle class to the exclusion of those who need it.

Interesting that Phoenix Gas have backed the new boiler scheme after having previously given friendly backing to the Green New deal. Interesting too that Sinn Fein (ever capable of doing what Harold Wilson said all politicians ought to be able to do, i.e. riding two horses at one and the same time) welcomed the Boiler Replacement Scheme

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty