SDLP Communities Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has questioned why Minister Deirdre Hargey has yet to bring forward any concrete proposals to support people dealing with the energy crisis this winter.
It had been reported Sinn Féin Minister Hargey was bringing forward a support scheme, but it is yet to materialise.
Mr Durkan was speaking after the SDLP published its energy costs action plan last week.
He said time was fast running out to get support to the people who need it.
Foyle MLA Mr Durkan said:
“We are already half way through December and have experienced a number of very cold weather spells and still no support from Minister Hargey has been forthcoming. Despite reports that some form of support would be made available to those who need it nothing has materialised and families across the North have been left feeling abandoned.
“The huge spike in energy bills alongside the cost of living crisis and Sinn Féin-approved £20 weekly cut to Universal Credit has left many people struggling. It is getting harder and harder for everyone, particularly those on low-incomes, to heat their homes and families are being left with very difficult decisions to make this Christmas in order to stay safe and healthy and keep food on the table.
“In stark contrast to Minister Hargey’s inaction, the SDLP last week published a nine-point plan aiming to get people through the toughest winter in recent memory and to address the long-standing issues around fuel poverty in the North. When people are suffering we can not just stand by and do nothing, we have seen initiatives to help people in the South and we need to see similar plans in the North.
“I’m urging Minister Hargey to look at our energy costs action plan and bring forward proposals to help people mitigate this crisis before its too late. Families are under increasing pressure from all sides and we have an obligation to do everything we can to help.”