SDLP unveils plan to tackle rising energy costs

SDLP unveils plan to tackle rising energy costs
SDLP MLA Sinead McLaughlin said many people are “struggling” with the current cost of energy bills.

The SDLP has launched a plan the party says will address the rising energy costs hitting households across Northern Ireland.

The plan would see a cost-of-living taskforce created in the Executive Office, as well as the extension of the winter fuel payment to those currently on Universal Credit

SDLP MLA Sinead McLaughlin said many people are “struggling” and accused First Minister Paul Givan and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill of showing no “interest” in tackling rising costs.

“Between the cut to Universal Credit, increasing national insurance contributions, the runaway cost of oil, gas and electricity, people are finding it really difficult to make ends meet.

“To date our First Ministers have shown no political will or, it has to be said, interest in tackling it,” she said.

The plan by the party would also see the implementation of a warm home discount scheme, which Ms McLaughlin said would reduce energy costs by facilitating the installation of insultation in homes.

The action plan also calls for an increase in the notification period for utility companies to introduce price rises, while also putting a cap on energy company profits.

“We are also seeking to reform the structural issues that have led to successive price rises at short notice to households,” the SDLP MLA said.

“That should include extending the period that companies must give notice to consumers before a price rise takes effect.

“That will allow families time to prepare for significant increases rather than being caught on the hop at times like Christmas when energy use is traditionally higher.”

“I don’t believe that the First Ministers understand the scale of this crisis. Nor do they seem to be engaged in the action needed to relieve pressure on people across the North.”