Murphy calls for VAT exemption on energy bills

Stormont Finance Minister Conor Murphy has called for a VAT exemption on energy bills as gas prices continue to rise in Northern Ireland.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 12th November 2021, 7:48 am
Firmus Energy yesterday announced increased gas tariffs in its Ten Towns area
Firmus Energy yesterday announced increased gas tariffs in its Ten Towns area

Firmus Energy yesterday announced it will put up prices by 38% from December 3 across its Ten Towns network area due to rising global energy costs.

Prices in the same area had already been increased by 35% in October. Firmus Energy also supplies gas to the greater Belfast area. Tariffs in that area rose 32.98% last month.

Another supplier, SSE Airtricity, previously announced a 21.8% increase in gas prices for household and business customers in Northern Ireland.

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Giving evidence to a Stormont committee last week, the Consumer Council said the price for heating a home in Northern Ireland rose by 70% in October.

Members of the economy committee were also warned that the high prices for gas, electricity and oil are likely to last for several months.

Mr Murphy yesterday said he has written to the chief secretary to the Treasury asking that the VAT costs of 5% for domestic users and 20% for business are waived for a period of time.

“The cost of living crisis is severely impacting many of our citizens, causing further hardship for families and businesses during an already difficult time,” he said.

“Over the course of the pandemic, we have seen workers, businesses and families struggle immensely.

“Many will now continue to face significant financial challenges as we move through the winter period, with households and businesses coming under even more pressure given spiralling energy prices.

“I am calling on Treasury to act now and suspend VAT on energy bills temporarily to support the many families and businesses facing a very uncertain winter.”

Meanwhile, UUP MLA Andy Allen has called for the Stormont Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to urgently bring forward a fuel poverty support package.

“A recent Ulster Unionist Party motion calling for urgent action to be taken to address the energy cost increases and to provide a winter emergency fund, received support from all parties and I very much welcome this,” he said.

“During the debate the minister for communities stated that she was working with her officials to develop proposals to support those facing severe financial hardship.”

He said there is “no time to waste” as families are facing “a very challenging winter”.