Leader of the Opposition Matthew O’Toole MLA has said that Stormont and Whitehall Ministers must start to take the cost of living crisis facing households across Northern Ireland seriously.
Mr O’Toole was speaking after SDLP Opposition MLAs met a number of organisations at Stormont today to discuss the impact of the energy, food and fuel costs crisis on people across the North.
Speaking from Stormont this afternoon, Mr O’Toole said:
“As Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi met with caretaker Ministers in Northern Ireland today to discuss their mutual failure to deliver direct support to people and families most in need of help, SDLP MLAs were meeting with organisations to discuss what can practically be done to get urgent assistance out the door and into the pockets of those who need it.
“The hard truth is that this crisis is going to get worse. Energy prices are predicted to increase further, interest rates are going up and it’s going to make life incredibly difficult for thousands of people. We have heard testimony from people with disabilities about their fears for the months ahead and a difficult winter. We’ve spoken to retail sector representatives who are worried about the viability of local businesses. And we’ve heard from trade unions about the low wage crisis facing workers in almost every sector.
“It is astounding, and frankly pathetic, therefore to hear the Economy Minister suggest that the failure to get support to people who need it is unlinked to the absence of government in Northern Ireland that is being perpetuated by his party.
“It is far beyond time that political leaders here got back to work. Opposition MLAs are doing our jobs at Stormont and we’ll continue to produce proposals to get money into the pockets of people who need it. It is time that the DUP got on with their own jobs too.”