Cost of living - Surviving the crisis

This is such a difficult time for everyone across Northern Ireland, however it is a terrible time for those on the lowest incomes (both in and out of work) who have endured a decade of austerity.

They are now are finding it impossible to cope with average inflation running at 10% but as high as 30% for many essential food items such as meat, dairy, bread and cereals – not to mention the energy bill price hikes.

Surviving this crisis should now be the focus and to that end there are a number of things that need to happen:

  • The UK Government need to commit to social security benefit uprating in line with inflation for those out of work and in low paid work;
  • Restoration of the NI Executive to agree a budget and deliver for the people who are in crisis right now;

In addition, there are a wide range of local measures that could be quickly implemented that would make a real difference to the lives of people in crisis including: ensuring that promised support such as the £400 Energy Bill Support package is delivered in a timely manner; pausing benefit deductions and sanctions; investment in energy efficiency measures and emergency energy support schemes similar to that announced by Derry City & Strabane District Council; implementing Community Wealth Building initiatives such as the Real Living Wage (£10.90ph); implementing income maximisation schemes in partnership with the independent advice network; and implementing recommendations and actions delayed as a result of the collapse of the NI Executive, including improvements to the both the Discretionary Support and welfare mitigations schemes and finalising the Anti-Poverty Strategy.

From the perspective of someone struggling to cope, please do get in touch with Advice NI or your local independent advice provider. There may be something we can do in terms of income maximisation, debt management and signposting to sources of crisis support that could help. There are also sources of support in terms of energy efficiency advice and money management tips that might make all the difference in these times where every penny counts.

Our Information Officer has updated our Policy & Information Briefing for advisers on the cost of living measures to reflect all of the detail following the recent announcements, and we are adding helpful information and guidance for members of the public to our website about the range of support that is available.