Belfast Telegraph

Alasdair McDonnell urges Executive not to 'sit back and accept electricity price hike'

By Adrian Rutherford

The huge hike in electricity prices has prompted calls for an emergency meeting of the Executive to identify ways to fight it.

SDLP Assembly Member Alasdair McDonnell claimed an urgent debate is needed.

The Executive is not due to meet until September 8.

But Mr McDonnell has warned that a more urgent response was required.

"The Executive cannot just sit back and accept this swell in the cost of electricity," said Mr McDonnell.

"The SDLP is calling for an emergency meeting of the Executive to radically review our energy management structures and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure less expensive prices."

Mr McDonnell warned the "severe hike" would plunge many people in the province deeper into fuel poverty, debt and stress.

He added: "We are in a dire situation where the cost of living is surging but the majority of people's incomes are being reduced or remaining the same.

"It is vital that immediate action is taken by our Executive so that those feeling the financial squeeze are given some help to pay their energy bills."

Sinn Fein economic spokesman Conor Murphy said the Executive should explore ways of minimising the effects of the price hike.

"This latest increase will result in even more hardship and more people suffering from fuel poverty," he said.

"Many elderly are faced with the unenviable choice of eat or heat.

"This is unacceptable.

"It is a responsibility of Government to protect the vulnerable in society and I believe that the Executive needs to be proactive in finding ways to off-set the worst effects of fuel poverty.

"The British Treasury is reaping the benefits of these electricity increases, as with other energy and fuel increases, to the tune of millions of pounds.

"I fully endorse the argument that this increased British Treasury revenue should be used to reduce the impact of these increasing energy costs on those least able to afford them.

"It should be used to facilitate a social tariff to reduce the pressure on those in fuel poverty."

Belfast Telegraph

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