Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has said families and businesses need to be supported as energy prices continue to soar.
The South Down MP said:
“I met the utility regulator over the soaring energy prices that are putting already struggling workers and families under more pressure.
“It is also hitting businesses and will put jobs at risk over coming months.
“Due to a number of factors beyond the control of the local Executive, energy prices appear to be locked into a series of sharp rises over the next three-year period.
“With many homes already struggling to pay their bills, this will place a significant number of customers under serious financial pressure, and many more left to struggle with the impact of fuel poverty.
“We are in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis as energy prices soar largely due to global demand issues at the same time as inflation is rising and food and other costs are increasing, furlough being phased out and the universal credit uplift withdrawn.
“Action is needed to help families and businesses as energy prices continue to soar.
“The forthcoming publication of the Department for the Economy’s (DfE) Energy Strategy, and the Department for Communities (DfC) revised Fuel Poverty Strategy, offers an urgent opportunity in the new year to help mitigate the impact of these rising energy costs across the north of Ireland.
“Working in partnership, both DfE & DfC can deliver energy efficiency opportunities such as retrofitting homes and lessen the impact of fuel poverty for those consumers most in need.
“Sinn Féin has also called on the British government to remove VAT on energy bills during this global price spike to help support families.
“It should also explore a windfall tax on energy generators similar to that introduced in other European states and redirect the money raised towards tackling fuel poverty.
“This will be a difficult winter for many families, and we need to look at all measures to try to limit the impact and ensure people can heat their homes and put food on the table.”