Dickson expresses concern at potential winter energy affordability crisis

Economy Stewart Dickson

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has called for urgent action from the Department for the Economy and the Department for Communities to tackle the increasing pressures of energy costs on vulnerable households.

Mr Dickson was commenting following a further announcement from the Utility Regulator that energy prices will likely continue to rise sharply as wholesale fuel prices soar.

“I recently met with the Utility Regulator and heard of the major impact of rises in wholesale prices on the energy bills of the Northern Ireland consumer, caused by a number of geopolitical issues, and the impact of COVID-19,” said the East Antrim MLA.

“Although people can be assured there will be no shortage of gas, the real issue for most will be affordability as prices continue to climb.

“Ultimately, there is little we can do here to impact international prices. However, the Department for Communities and the Department for the Economy (DFE) can act to help protect consumers. Manufacturing businesses too will need support, and it is important DFE begin to plan now for the winter.

“This is also a clear indication of the need to accelerate our move away from fossil fuels, the price of which can fluctuate wildly. To make this move, we must provide proper support to households to undertake energy efficiency measures, and install low carbon heating systems, saving both money and energy, and helping to tackle the climate crisis we face. I will continue to press at the Assembly for such action.

“I would also recommend consumers visit the Consumer Council’s website for advice, and to check whether they can save money on their energy bills by switching suppliers. People receiving benefits may also wish to have a benefit check to ensure they are receiving all they are entitled to.”