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Competition in energy gives a lifeline to poor

With a second energy company entering the market and driving down prices, Northern Ireland's poor have been handed an essential lifeline.

As a national poverty charity, we strongly welcome the decision by Airtricity to set up in Northern Ireland, which ends the monopoly of domestic energy supplies held by NIE Energy.

We urge Airtricity to honour its pledge to cut prices by around 14%, which will allow customers typically to save £95 on their annual household electricity bill.

For those on the breadline, this will go a long way towards removing the agonising decision over whether to heat or eat.

Some 37% of people we help couldn't afford to heat their homes before coming to us. After seeking help, 86% of people can now afford to heat their homes.

Earlier this year, many of Elizabeth Finn Care's most vulnerable beneficiaries said they were struggling to pay their heating bills.

We therefore paid out one-off grants of £50 to every family we help to try and ease the burden.

But limited charity funds only stretch so far. While another energy supplier is a welcome addition, further competition in the marketplace is essential to ensure customers pay a fair price.

FINBARR FITZPATRICK

Elizabeth Finn Care, Belfast

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