Cost of living crisis: Credit union heating loans ‘almost double in a month’

Credit union loans to pay for home heating oil have almost doubled in the past month, with the size of loans having also almost doubled.

By Niall Deeney
Thursday, 10th March 2022, 1:01 am
Updated Thursday, 10th March 2022, 10:35 am

That is according to the Ballymena and Causeway Credit Union, who dropped the interest rate of their loans as a “gesture of goodwill” amid the cost of living crisis.

The surge in costs for home heating oil along with diesel and petrol has been added in recent weeks to a sharp rise in prices for food and other essentials.

While soaring inflation is continuing to bite across the UK, in Northern Ireland the cost of home heating oil has in some instances almost doubled.

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Oil is still the most common way to heat Northern Ireland homes

Julie Martin, marketing manager from the Ballymena and Causeway Credit Union, said: “We always would have had a home heating loan in place at a lower rate, which is only for home heating.

“On the 25th of February we put out a home heating reduction because we know that times are tough for everyone at the moment.

“Our normal rate is 8% and we’ve lowered it to 4.9%.

“It was done as a goodwill gesture, really, to help people and let them know that we are here.”

She continued: “People are struggling. We would even find that we’ve had a few people contact us to say that they’re struggling with the repayments on their loans, because of the cost of everything at the minute.

“Our home heating loans have almost doubled in the last month.

“The average member would have taken out £300 before the increase and now the average is £570.”

The cost of fuel has also continued to surge.

There were reports in some areas of Northern Ireland yesterday of diesel prices now approaching £2 per litre.

One filling station, in Waringstown, had diesel for sale at £195.9.

Meanwhile, more than two-fifths (42%) of families with children living at home are expecting to take on additional debt to deal with soaring energy bills, according to a financial confidence tracker.

A third (33%) of families with children said they had struggled to pay their household bills over the previous week, according to the research carried out in mid-February.

And nearly a fifth (19%) of people without children at home think the energy costs crisis will push them into further debts.

Alex Hasty, director at comparethemarket.com, said: “Many households are facing a significant increase to their outgoings and could be pushed into debt.”

Around a third (32%) of households with children at home are not confident about meeting their financial obligations in the coming weeks, with one in five (21%) households without children feeling the same way. Comparethemarket’s findings were based on a survey of 2,100 people across the UK.