Northern Ireland news

Assembly urged to help consumers amid soaring fuel prices

Domestic gas bills could increase by another 50% this winter, with electricity bills set to rise by 20 per cent. Picture by Rui Vieira, Press Association

THE Assembly has been urged to tackle soaring fuel prices as winter sets in.

There are fears that many families will be forced to choose between eating and heating as consumers experience the worst price shock since the 1970s.

The average consumer is expected to pay £1,000 more for energy than last year.

Domestic gas bills could increase by another 50% this winter, with electricity bills set to rise by 20%.

The cost of home heating oil is also at a three-year high.

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll said the assembly must be recalled to discuss the issue.

He said the Executive must agree plans on how to help people in need.

''Fuel price hikes cannot be allowed to go ahead unmitigated," he said.

"Over 300,000 people already live in poverty and this latest surge will throw thousands more into crisis, leaving overstretched food banks empty and greater levels of child poverty.

''The Stormont Executive, who don't even have a functioning fuel poverty strategy, have failed communities.

"They must recognise this emergency and introduce urgent measures, such as immediately extending the winter fuel payment scheme."

Green Party leader Clare Bailey MLA said the continued reliance on fossil fuels is contributing to the problem.

"This is a stark reminder that basing our energy supply on fossil fuels doesn't just impact the climate crisis, but it is now exacerbating the cost of living crisis as well," she said.

"Combined with the removal of the Universal Credit uplift, this means that many will be facing a tough winter.

"The five-party Executive should now step up and take the urgent action needed to ensure that no families are forced to choose between heating and eating this Christmas."

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