There are 412,000 households living in fuel poverty in Ireland today, an increase of over 10,000 since last year. This means that almost 20% of all households in Ireland are unable to adequately heat their homes. The Energy Action Conference, ‘Fuel Poverty in Ireland – an integrated new approach”, will be held at the Croke Park Conference Centre on Monday next 6th October and is open to the media. Charles Roarty, CEO of Energy Action, has welcomed recent Government initiatives to reduce fuel poverty. Speaking at a photo call with Alex White, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, to launch the Energy Action Conference on 6th October, Roarty said that the widening of the eligibility criteria to access the free insulation service provided under the SEAI Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme would help reach more vulnerable householders. The addition of Job Seekers Allowance for over six months with children under seven and the Family Income Supplement to the criteria has been a very welcome development. Energy Action also welcomes the Government’s Green Paper on Energy Policy as well as the forthcoming review of the Affordable Energy Strategy that will be discussed at the Conference on the 6th.   Commenting at the photocall Minister White said: “Energy is not a luxury, it is a fundamental requirement of modern life and we have a shared responsibility as a society to ensure that everyone can afford to heat and power their homes. The evidence is clear that enabling people to live in homes that are comfortable and warm has an enormous impact upon the quality of their lives, which is reflected in lower costs for our health system. To achieve this industry, Government and consumer groups all need to work together to develop the type of solutions that can make a real difference for those in energy poverty and the Energy Action conference is a tangible example of the kind of collaborative approach we want to see.” In addition, Alan Kelly TD, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, recently announced that he is allocating a further €15 million to be invested in upgrading the energy efficiency of local authority homes this year, bringing the total allocation in 2014 to €30 million. This is part of a three year jobs stimulus programme that will see the energy efficiency of 25,000 of the poorest insulated local authority homes improved. This Energy Efficiency Insulation/Retrofitting Programme will receive funding of €50 million over the period 2013-15. This provision will ensure that the entire social housing stock will have, at minimum, cavity wall insulation, roof insulation and draught proofing. This will result in warmer homes and lower energy bills for thousands of families and will create around 1,000 jobs in the construction sector.