SDLP Deputy Leader Nichola Mallon MLA has said that rising fuel and energy costs will hammer households struggling to make ends meet as the Utility Regulator announced an increase in SSE Airtricity gas prices in the Belfast and western distribution areas.
The SDLP’s Minister in the Executive has written to Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey today proposing an extension to the £200 energy payment support scheme to all bill payers in Northern Ireland.
Nichola Mallon MLA said:
“Hard working families are being hammered again and again by a series of sky high price increases. Energy bills, fuel bills and food bills keep going up but people and households across our communities just cannot catch a break.
“Last year the SDLP proposed a series of measures that would mitigate the impact of this crisis on homes across the North but to date there has been very little action. Today we are seeing further increases to gas prices in the greater Belfast and western distribution areas that will punish people least able to bear the burden right now.
“I have written to the Communities Minister today seeking support for a proposal to extend the £200 energy payment support scheme to all bill payers across the North. There is an urgent need to act now to support all families who are in severe financial difficulty, those in receipt of social security and those on low incomes who are not.
“We have an obligation to pursue every path available to support people who are being hit by this crisis. In the absence of an Executive, it is clearly more difficult to take the action necessary to safeguard people and families in need. That is why I have also suggested that opportunities to provide resource through alternative schemes such as the Bryson emergency fuel payment scheme should be pursued. We must be relentless in our approach to this crisis.
“There are clear ways that we could act to support people and families across our communities. We need to a people first approach from Ministers and we need to see it now.”