Rachel Woods MLA has criticised the lack of an Executive response to price increases that have been announced for electricity and gas. She said:
“Bills are set to increase by over 20% as we move into the winter months and demand is at its height.
“This will come at a time when the government are cutting £20 a week from Universal Credit and increasing national insurance contributions that will squeeze earnings of our lowest paid workers.
“People have already experienced significant hardship as a result of the pandemic, and this news is a kick in the teeth for those on very limited incomes.
“22% of households here find themselves in fuel poverty, according to on the 2016 House Condition Survey, and too many of our citizens are forced to choose between heating and eating. Price hikes for electricity and gas will only exacerbate this problem.
“The lack of any plan or response from the Executive to these price increases is shocking and disgraceful, but unfortunately not surprising. Successive Executives have failed to get a hold of this issue.
The Fuel Poverty Coalition has found that deaths from cardiovascular diseases are directly linked to exposure of excessively low indoor temperatures for long periods of time. The impact on the public’s mental health too cannot be underestimated as people have to try and balance already stretched budgets.
“We need a fully resourced Fuel Poverty Strategy for Northern Ireland, which the Fuel Poverty Coalition has recently reiterated calls for, as well as additional support in the form of fuel payments or a ‘fuel bank’ fund.
No one should have to choose between heating and eating this winter.”
Media contact – Rachel Woods, 07730041761