CONCERNS have been raised further about the rising cost of living on households amid another surge in wholesale gas prices and a prediction that inflation will top 18 per cent by January.
There were calls last night for more support for people in the north already struggling to pay bills and "worried about the difficult winter ahead".
It came as natural gas prices surged on international markets yesterday after Russia’s state-owned energy giant, Gazprom, said it would close down Europe’s single biggest piece of gas infrastructure for three days from the end of August.
There are fears the taps will not get turned back on amid tensions with the Kremlin following the invasion of Ukraine.
Economists have also warned UK inflation is on course to breach 18 per cent at the start of 2023 due to rocketing energy bills.
Soaring inflation will tighten the squeeze on households already facing the deepening cost of living crisis. Experts have predicted inflation will reach the highest point in more than 40 years and nine times the Bank of England's target.
The developments came as Sinn Féin last night reiterated its call for an Executive to be formed to tackle the "cost-of-living emergency"
Conor Murphy said his party was "ready to work with all parties to form an Executive now to put money in the pockets of workers and families who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis".
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood also called on the NI Civil Service to set up a cost of living taskforce in the "absence of political leadership from Executive parties".
"People in our communities are frightened and don’t know where to turn," he said.
"Costs keep going up and have shown no signs of slowing down.
In another development yesterday, the first Australian gas shipment to Europe in more than half a decade was due to dock in England.
The Attalos gas tanker was bringing a rare cargo of liquified natural gas from Australia to the UK.
Downing Street insisted it did not signal any panic over the risk of energy supplies.
It came as reports suggested people could be paid for turning off high energy appliances during peak times this winter.
The National Grid Electricity System Operator is believed to be considering a reward for consumers who help ease the strain on the power grid.