SDLP West Belfast Assembly election candidate Paul Doherty has said the rising cost of energy bills is going to push struggling families to the brink.
Mr Doherty was speaking after price rises by Electric Ireland and Firmus Energy in recent days.
He said immediate action was needed to help families dealing with the current costs emergency.
Mr Doherty said:
“It’s just blow after blow for families who are struggling to get by at the minute. These latest price hikes are the last thing our communities need with many people already struggling to heat their homes, put food on the table and fuel in their cars. Bills just seem to be going up and up and people have no idea where it’s all going to end.
“In every other part of these islands governments are stepping up to support people. Emergency payments have been made and schemes put in place, but our communities are being failed as a result of parties’ failure to put their own interests to one side and deliver for local people.
“The SDLP has been trying everything within our power to get support to people who badly need it. We brought forward emergency legislation at Stormont to try and unlock the £300m doing nothing to help people through this crisis, but our efforts were inexplicably blocked by Speaker Alex Maskey. Our party Leader Colum Eastwood is continuing to work at Westminster to identify exactly what can be done to help people here.
“It’s deplorable that the DUP walked away from the Executive and thwarted our ability to get help to people, but that provides no comfort to struggling families. We need to exhaust every avenue from extending the £200 energy support payment, reactivating the free school meals scheme and exploring a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, it’s not right that huge corporations are profiting off the misery of people here.
“This situation keeps getting worse and there is no indication on the horizon that it will get better. It’s our duty to put people first and come up with the solutions necessary to help our communities at this extremely difficult time.”