Derry JOURNAL Editorial: Cost of living crisis already chilling ahead of winter

We may be at the height of summer but you can already feel the winter chill creeping in as thoughts turn to how people will afford to heat their homes and feed and clothe their families in the coming months.

By Brendan McDaid
Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 12:54 pm

As increasing numbers of organisations are pointing out, this winter will be unlike any other over recent decades, as costs spiral at levels not seen for at least a generation while household incomes in real terms plummet, leaving families struggling to cope.

There is a growing sense of urgency in the community for governments, politicians to get a handle on this. Delaying now will be unforgivable if people lose their lives due to poverty, due to being unable to pay for heating, bills and food or unable to cope with the competing demands of ever rising household bills and costs.

Most are already feeling the pinch. The massive hikes in oil and gas prices are well documented and there are thousands locally who fear the oil running out or having to top up their gas. A lot of money is going a little way these days.

The cost of heating homes has skyrocketed this year.

At the petrol pumps it’s a similar story, meaning people are thinking twice about the journeys they make by car. All this is impacting across every sector, pushing prices up for food and goods processing and transport. It shows no signs of abating just as mortgage and rent rates seems to be rising everywhere.

These factors, combined with the fact that if people have less disposable income then this will have a huge impact on local firms and businesses, mean we are hurtling towards a perfect storm this winter.

And we know that the health service is already in crisis and struggling to cope, with many services remaining on an emergency footing. If people cannot say warm, well and keep their families fed this is only going to result in more people getting sick and needing treatment. And that’s not to mention the impact on charities and other organisations working at the coalface of this, like the local foodbanks on both sides of the border who have already seen demand grow at an extraordinary rate.

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Protestors at a previous Derry Against Fuel Poverty rally Photo: George Sweeney. DER2206GS – 135

Meanwhile, people in the south are still waiting to hear what the government will do to help.

Whatever measures are taken it is likely it won’t be enough and bills are predicted to rise further at a time when some energy companies are seeing their profits soar.

The time for all politicians to do all they can to help the people they represent is here. Excuses for not doing so will be cold comfort for the increasing number expected to be plunged into poverty by Christmas.