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Cost of living continues to bite in Northern Ireland – Price of motor fuel hits ‘historic highs’ while home heating oil drops slightly


Fuel pumps.

Fuel pumps.

Fuel pumps.

Motorists in parts of Northern Ireland are paying almost 172p per litre for petrol, according to the latest figures.

But while the cost of petrol and diesel continues to soar, the price of home heating oil has decreased slightly over the past week.

According to the Consumer Council, the average price for 900L of home heating oil is £330 cheaper than the £1,180 it cost in March – around £846.

Diesel prices are at historic highs while petrol prices are close to the historic highs of April 2012, when adjusted for inflation, and the highest we have seen in nominal terms since our records began in 1990, the Consumer Council said.

The previous recent high was on March 24 with petrol at 165.1 and diesel at 176.2.

The Consumer Council figures released today show petrol at 165.5 and diesel at 177.5.

The latest prices were published yesterday as Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey vowed to explore all options in an effort to assist people experiencing economic hardship.

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However, an emergency fuel payment scheme run by her department which assisted struggling households with soaring energy costs cannot be reopened without a Stormont Executive.

The average price of diesel and fuel continues to creep up in Northern Ireland.

In December 2021, the price of diesel and petrol was 144.2p and 141.7p respectively.

By the start of April 2022 that had risen to 172.6p and 161.4p.

As of May 19 that price went up again – and it is now 177.5p for diesel and 165.5p for petrol on average.

In Newtownabbey, motorists can avail of the cheapest average diesel price at 173.9p, whereas Magherafelt is highest at 179.9.

Limavady and Newtownabbey have the joint cheapest petrol at 158.9p, with the highest rate in Newry at 171.9p.

Meanwhile, home heating oil prices have fluctuated over the past few months. 

In mid-April, 900L cost £730.10 and 500L £415.69.

Those prices rose again – by May 5 they were at £864.96 (900L) and £490.90 (500L).

Now, on May 19, they stand at £846.58 (900L) and £479.73 (500L).

People living in Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon pay the most for home heating oil at £488.11 on average for 500L.

Those living in Fermanagh & Omagh get the cheapest deal at £463.27.

Those prices are in stark contrast to December 2021 when it was possible to purchase 900L for £449.14 and 500L for £257.26.

Derry Against Fuel Poverty has been campaigning against the injustice of the cost of living crisis.

Spokesperson Sinead Quinn expressed dismay at the government response, or lack thereof.

She said it was predicted many months ago that the inflation rate would rise to 9% by the end of 2022.

"It is only May and we have hit that already. In fact, the poorest 10% of us are already experiencing closer to 10.9% as evidenced by the Institute for Fiscal Studies yesterday,” she added.

“We are well aware these are unprecedented times. We therefore expected an unprecedented response from all layers of government.

"The response thus far from both levels of government has been shockingly inadequate and only reinforces what we knew already - the state does not care about us.

“Many of us living in poverty are struggling to keep our heads above the water on a daily basis now for many months and struggling to keep our mental health intact with it.”

Ms Quinn continued: "We spent the last several months listening to what have amounted to undeliverable promises to deal with this crisis and we're collectively depressed by the lack of action.

“We believe in a functioning Assembly & Executive and remain furious that the DUP are holding us to ransom.

"We need a coalition of MPs, working in unity, to force the UK government to spring into action immediately.

"Working class people simply cannot and will not continue to pay. It is time for the state to wise up and pay up."

Yesterday, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey tasked officials to focus policies and funding on supporting people through the cost of living crisis.

The Minister said she is listening to families and workers who are struggling to make ends meet and is committed to responding to the issue by ensuring the department’s resources are effectively targeted to those who are in need.

Following a meeting with the department’s Permanent Secretary Colum Boyle and senior team on budget planning, Minister Hargey said: “I am committed to continuing to support workers, families and communities who are experiencing real hardship. To giving them the helping hand they need to heat their homes, to put a meal on the table.

“Of course we know that the absence of a functioning Executive and no budget in place for this year, makes the challenge all the greater. Vital funding is locked away. New laws cannot be made.”

She continued: “But we have a track record here for making things happen, for achieving positive change.

“I am determined that my department will continue to deliver for all those who are in need.

“I have tasked my officials to fully explore and expedite all of the options open to us.

“And I will continue to meet with local organisations and community groups to hear more about what is happening on the ground, to listen to their concerns and to find out about creative partnerships that are making a real difference.”

The DUP has been contacted for comment.

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