The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland has reacted to the news that gas prices are set to rise by 35% in some parts of Northern Ireland.

Firmus energy announced their increase today which will come into effect in some areas of Northern Ireland from 1 October, affecting 55,000 households. The news comes just days after SSE Airtricity announced that they will increase their natural gas prices for households and businesses by 21.8% also from October.

The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch said:

“The news that gas prices are rising so significantly is hugely concerning and will come as another devastating blow to many older people who are already struggling to keep up with their utility bills.

“I met with the utility regulator last week and whilst I understand that the stark rise in prices is unavoidable due to a surge in demand and subsequent cost of purchasing gas on the global market, more must be done to support the most vulnerable in our society who are once again the hardest hit by this news.

“With 50,000 pensioners in Northern Ireland already living in relative poverty* as a society we must ensure we are doing all we can to support our older, more vulnerable citizens. I would urge utility suppliers and our Executive to look at all reasonable measures they can put in place to help ease this burden for those who cannot afford price rises of this magnitude. They also need to make it easy for older people to apply for help.

“I would advise anybody who is concerned about their ability to meet these increased prices to contact their supplier. Energy companies must do everything they can to provide a solution for vulnerable older customers who cannot afford these increases.”

* statistics taken from the NI 2019/2020 Poverty Bulletin