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28 Jan 2022

McLaughlin: £40million underspend should be used to help Taskforce assist those in need

Sinead McLaughlin

Foyle MLA Sinead McLaughlin: "People across the North are struggling and they are rightly asking what are the Executive going to do to support them."

SDLP Foyle MLA, Sinéad McLaughlin, has called for a £40million Department for the Economy (DfE) underspend to go to a cost of living taskforce.

Executive Office Committee chair Ms McLaughlin secured the support of the committee for the establishment of the taskforce last week.

She again called for the urgent establishment of the taskforce in the Assembly in Monday stressing it was vital to introduce measures to the face of “an extremely difficult winter”.

Ms McLaughlin said: “People across the North are struggling and they are rightly asking what are the Executive going to do to support them.

“We need to see the urgent establishment of a cost of living taskforce to introduce measures to support people through what’s set to be an extremely difficult winter, we cannot abandon people in the face of the multiple pressures they are dealing with.

“Universal Credit payments have been cut by £20 a week, the price of food and other essential items has risen and energy bills have gone up by £1,000. We have yet to see any action from our Executive to mitigate this.

“We have no energy strategy or fuel poverty strategy and people are left to turn to charities and foodbanks for support.

“We have the money to assist families in need, DfE is returning a £40m underspend and this should be used to help those who need it most, people who are currently having to choose between heating their homes and putting food on the table.

“All this is taking place while our health service is crumbling and a failure to offer support will result in worsening health for many in our population and increase the pressure on our hospitals.

“We need to see Executive leadership on this issue, temperatures are plummeting and the nights are long and dark, people can’t wait any longer.”

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