Cost-of-living crisis: NI households to see another price hike

Northern Ireland is to be hit with yet another energy price hike as the cost-of-living crisis continues to eat into family budgets.

By Niall Deeney
Thursday, 31st March 2022, 4:25 pm
File photo dated 22/04/12 of a £10 note burning on a gas hob. Energy bill rises and increases in fuel costs. Photo credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire
File photo dated 22/04/12 of a £10 note burning on a gas hob. Energy bill rises and increases in fuel costs. Photo credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

The latest announcement came on Thursday from Firmus Energy, who said its natural gas tariff in the Ten Towns Network area will increase by 16.31%.

This follows a 30% increase in electricity prices for around 100,000 people from Electric Ireland, announced on Wednesday.

Heating oil prices, meanwhile, remain high with 900 litres costing an average of £761.94, according to the latest figures from the Northern Ireland Consumer Council’s weekly price checker.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

And vehicle fuel prices also remain high, with a litre of diesel costing an average of 174.3p in Northern Ireland and a litre of petrol setting motorists back an average of 161.7p.

While the price of both fuel types are down slightly on the figures published by the Northern Ireland Consumer Council the week before, they remain well above the prices a Northern Ireland driver could have expected to pay at any time prior to the war in Ukraine.

On the Firmus gas price increase, the consumer council’s head of energy policy Raymond Gormley said: “It is important that consumers are made aware that their domestic gas bills will stay high for at least the next year because the wholesale price that the companies pay for the gas continues to be much more expensive than the norm.

“Unfortunately heating oil prices are also very high, so regardless of the fuel we use, many of us will experience extreme pressure on our household budgets. This will further increase the numbers of people in fuel poverty, as many families may struggle to find the extra money they will now need to pay for heating.”

He continued: “As the Winter 2021/22 Emergency Fuel Payment Scheme ends today (31 March 2022), we implore firmus energy, and the wider energy industry, to commit to financially supporting the continuation of a fuel hardship scheme in the coming financial year.”

Mr Gormley added: “For the longer term, it is clear that energy companies, policy makers, the Utility Regulator, charities and the Consumer Council must continue to work together to develop sustainable solutions to help support those in need as the problem of high energy prices will likely be with us for the foreseeable future.”

Firmus’ interim managing director, Niall Martindale, pointed to the war in Ukraine as the reason for the hike.

“Energy markets remain at very high levels having been adversely affected by the war in Ukraine,” he said. Mr Martindale described the situation as a “market crisis”.

The Utility Regulator, meanwhile, said it had considered Firmus’ price hike and “concluded that a 16.31% increase is now needed to reflect the harsh underlying market conditions.”