The SDLP has written to Sinn Féin Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey, urging her to take the plight of people here seriously in the face of yet another price hike.
Gas suppliers have contacted customers this week warning of a 33.57% tariff increase in addition to already record high energy costs.
SDLP Newry, Mourne and Down Councillor Karen McKevitt said Minister Hargey needs to act now to ensure the £55m Energy Payment Support Scheme is open before the planned timeframe of mid-March.
Cllr. McKevitt said:
“If the Minister is serious about protecting vulnerable people and their families she must issue fuel support payments now to allow people to get the best value for money rather than just filling the coffers of energy companies.
“The latest gas tariff increase will mean an average annual increase of over £300 per household and that is in addition to multiple increases in recent months. Sky-high wholesale gas prices will undoubtedly drive people into poverty. Already struggling households are bearing the brunt of the cost of living crisis and these spiralling costs are completely unsustainable.
“The Minister has a duty to act now to soften the blow of the latest gas hike. People cannot afford to wait until March, they need financial support in their hands now.”