WHICH? Report further highlights the need for robust intervention and support – Allen

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WHICH? Report further highlights the need for robust intervention and support – Allen

Ulster Unionist MLA and Communities spokesperson Andy Allen MBE has welcomed the release of research by consumer champions WHICH? that shows how dire the circumstances are for more and more households across Northern Ireland.

The report, published this morning has identified that:


·         Consumers in Northern Ireland are more likely than anywhere else in the UK to have cut back on essentials: 44% compared to 20% in 2020.

·         Consumers are engaging in cost-saving behaviours which may be detrimental to their health - 76% are putting the heating on less and more than one in ten (13%) have skipped meals.

·         Parents have been particularly hard hit - 77% have had to make adjustments, compared with just under half of pensioners.

·         92% of Northern Irish consumers are worried about energy prices and 89% are worried about food prices. Worry about food prices has risen sharply, up from 62% in 2020.

·         Northern Irish households would have to find an additional £2190 per year on average to maintain the same spending habits on just essentials (food, energy and fuel). This is the highest level across all the UK nations and means 35% of household expenditure goes on just these three essentials.


Speaking on the findings, Mr. Allen, who has championed the need for short, medium and long-term solutions to both the energy and cost-of-living crises and called repeatedly on all parties to form an Executive at Stormont to provide essential support for those hardest hit, said:


“I note with concern this detailed report from WHICH?.  While it brings no surprises about the levels of hardship being faced by individuals and families across Northern Ireland, it further highlights the urgent need for short, medium and long term intervention.


“All the challenges faced are, without a doubt, exacerbated by the continued lack of leadership at Stormont or from Westminster as a last resort. With departments being allowed to drift rudderless without ministers whilst facing significant budget pressures, the possibility to create targeted responses to support the most vulnerable is limited. 


“With news yesterday that Westminster seems content to allow the lack of a functioning government at Stormont to continue into next year, what genuine hope do my constituents in East Belfast, along with those living in the 17 other constituencies across Northern Ireland, have that things will get any better.


“I, along with 89 others were elected by our constituents to be the vehicle that identifies and supports those in most need, to protect and transform our Health Service and deliver effective help to those suffering most across all aspects of their daily lives. Each day we are unable to do that, to not be allowed to provide the help our people so urgently need, is yet another day of unbearable suffering and distress for more and more people across Northern Ireland.  While I recognise the genuine concerns of so many that have been created by Brexit and the protocol, by not delivering for those who need help we are failing in our most basic duties.”