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27 Sept 2022

Truss urged to deliver measures to help NI companies facing energy bill hikes

Truss urged to deliver measures to help NI companies facing energy bill hikes

Finance Minister Conor Murphy has called on Prime Minister Liz Truss to deliver a package of measures to help businesses in Northern Ireland hit by rising energy prices

Speaking during a visit to Dungannon, Co Tyrone, Mr Murphy said he had heard first hand of the hardship businesses were facing.

He said: “Every day we hear of businesses left with no choice but to cease trading or to compress their opening hours in order to make savings on running costs.

“The unpredictable, crippling energy bills facing our small businesses are not sustainable.

“For months I have been calling on the British Government to intervene to support businesses and their workers.

“Liz Truss must act now before it’s too late for more businesses.

“The Westminster Government must step up and urgently deliver support which makes a real difference.”

Mr Murphy said action should be taken to reduce VAT and duties on fuel and energy bills.

He added: “The reduced VAT for the hospitality sector must also be reinstated to assist these businesses, which were so adversely impacted by the pandemic.

“Given the ever-deepening crisis, more will need to be done to tackle the scale of energy bills expected over the winter months.

“It is essential that any package of measures put in place is delivered quickly to support our businesses and protect the jobs of those they employ.”

It comes as another energy company announced it was increasing prices in Northern Ireland.

Click Energy, the smallest of five electricity suppliers in the region, said it was increasing prices by 28.2% at the start of October, affecting 26,000 customers.

A spokesman for Click said: “We are fully aware that this is very unwelcome news for our customer base. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, especially in light of other recent price hikes.

“Tariffs are set as a direct consequence of prices on the global market and are completely beyond our control.”

The Consumer Council said the rise will see the typical annual bill for a household increase by an extra £269.

Raymond Gormley, head of energy policy, said: “With every price announcement it becomes more apparent that Northern Ireland consumers need more support.

“While the £400 payment announced will be a help when it arrives, it will not be enough to help Northern Ireland consumers through the winter ahead.

“We urge anyone who is struggling to pay their energy bills or top up their meters to contact their supplier without delay.

“We also encourage consumers to think about ways they can reduce their energy costs through energy efficiency and, if possible, try to save money over the next few weeks to cover energy costs during the coming winter.”

Earlier this week, gas supplier Firmus Energy announced a 56.3% price rise for Northern Ireland customers.

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