Cost of Living

Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at on 8 February 2023.

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Photo of Dave Doogan Dave Doogan Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence)

What assessment he has made with Cabinet colleagues of the effect of increases in the cost of living on people in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Steven Baker Steven Baker The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

Many households have already received a £600 payment to support energy bills, with the roll-out of those payments continuing. That is in addition to the energy price guarantee that has reduced the unit cost of electricity and gas this winter. The Government have provided this support in the absence of a Northern Ireland Executive whose responsibility it would ordinarily fall to. That is in addition to separate support for low-income households, disadvantaged pensioners, and those living with disabilities. We have delivered all that because, of course, we are agreed that the situation is serious.

Photo of Dave Doogan Dave Doogan Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence)

Many people in Northern Ireland—a very high proportion—are off-grid heating oil users. They, like oil users in my Angus constituency, had to wait a long time, after they had paid hugely inflated oil prices, to get support from the UK Government. That was bad enough, but is the Minister concerned about price gouging in the biomass market, with people paying grossly inflated prices for wood pellets? I think he will agree that the price of trees has not gone up at the same rate as the price of oil and gas.

Photo of Steven Baker Steven Baker The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

I am not aware of evidence of the phenomenon that the hon. Gentleman refers to. If he would please write to me, I will be grateful for the opportunity to look into it.