Any incoming Executive must prioritise tackling the cost of living crisis, Alliance MLA Nick Mathison has said, as he unveiled plans to work on a private member’s Bill on school uniform pricing.
After meeting with local community activists including North Down CFC at The Warehouse in Newtownards – an organisation dedicated to tackling poverty and social isolation – Nick said he was concerned to learn about the growing numbers relying on community support schemes across Northern Ireland to access basic necessities.
He said: “With energy and food prices soaring, households in my community who may have just been managing before, cannot now afford the essentials such as paying electricity bills or putting food on the table.
“It was fantastic to meet the team at The Warehouse recently and hear first-hand the work that goes in to running their community fridge project, their crisis kitchen and the fantastic wear and share programme. Projects such as this will continue to be vital as cost of living pressures increase, but it remains a scandal that DUP will not go back into Government to help those who need it most, leaving hundreds of millions in funding unspent.
“I also heard about the pressures of paying for school uniforms for many families adding to their financial stress. I’m committed to tackling this issue and would urge the Department of Education to step up and legislate for a cap on school uniform costs as soon as possible. I have not heard any proposals from them in this regard and I plan to bring forward a Private Member’s Bill as soon as possible on this issue, to ensure there is fairness and equality in school uniform pricing in Northern Ireland.
“This is another reason why we need the Assembly up and running, so legislation can be delivered to tackle an everyday pressure and make a huge difference to families. I hope the DUP is able to recognise that and get back to work soon.”