Cusack worried energy hikes will leave old and vulnerable in the cold

Shauna Cusack.
Shauna Cusack.

SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack has said the decision of energy companies to hike prices following a period of severe cold weather will leave many, particularly older and vulnerable people, in distress.

She commented: “The decision by Firmus and SSE to raise domestic energy prices by over 7 per cent on average will leave many people, particularly older people and the vulnerable, in distress about how they’ll afford to heat their homes.

“In the immediate wake of severe cold weather, and with more predicted in the weeks ahead, the news that the average bill will increase by around £40 will force people to evaluate how they keep their homes and their families warm.

“Household budgets are stretched. In this context, one of the best investments that can be made is in home energy efficiency. Unfortunately, as a result of the paralysis at Stormont, the affordable warmth scheme, which provides grant support to people suffering from fuel poverty, can’t be amended to broaden the number of people who can benefit.

“These grants can be used for cavity wall insulation, roof insulation, boiler upgrades or other energy efficiency measures. The SDLP has previously made the case for the threshold to be made wider so that all those in need can benefit.

“I would encourage anyone with gas heating to begin the process of comparing their suppliers with others in the market. People need to be sure they’re getting the best deal available.

“For people who rely on oil, I’d encourage them to look into any local oil buying clubs that can reduce the price you pay by placing bulk orders with local providers.”