Council funding to save fuel stamp scheme

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THE popular fuel stamp saving scheme run by St. Vincent de Paul looks set to remain for another three years thanks to the support of Coleraine Borough Council.

Members of last week’s Leisure and Environment Committee agreed to fund the charity to the tune of £2,000 per year - a decision which will now need ratified by full council when it meets at the end of the month.

In his monthly address to members, Director of Environmental Services, Mr. Kieran Doherty said the scheme had helped hundreds of families across the borough since its launch in June of 2007 with approximately 25,000 stamps selling per annum.

“To date in excess of £678,000 worth of stamps have been sold from various retailers and distributors in the borough,” he told members.

“These stamps are used as an alternative payment method for fuel and are particularly sough after since the cost of heating oil has increased by 63% in the past two years.”

The scheme, which is promoted by Coleraine Borough Council, is fully administered by St. John’s Conference of St. Vincent de Paul in Coleraine, however, the charity no longer has the funds available to continue to deliver the initiative on Council’s behalf without financial support.

Recommending that members accede to the charity’s request for funding, Mr. Doherty revealed that the scheme would be prohibitively expensive for Council to run it in-house if SVP were to withdraw from their administrative role.

The charity currently runs the scheme at a cover cost of 8p per stamp, a figure which would rise to 25p per stamp if Council were to run it themselves and pay for their own “staff costs, travel costs, postage, fees and admin consumables”.