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Open letter on the cost of living crisis in Northern Ireland

Published on 22 September 2022 11:13 AM

On behalf of the organisations undersigned, we are making a joint plea for urgent action to mitigate the devastating impact of the cost of living crisis in Northern Ireland.

Local households of all shapes and sizes are being pummeled by spiraling living costs. Energy bills have increased by hundreds of pounds per year, record levels of inflation are making essentials like food and fuel unaffordable, and neither wages nor social security support have risen sufficiently to cushion the blow.

The crippling cost of living is pushing people in Northern Ireland into making increasingly desperate decisions to survive week-to-week. We are aware of heartbreaking stories of people skipping meals, turning off their heating, sitting in the dark with no electricity and making their own sanitary products because they simply can’t afford to get by any other way.

And these experiences only scratch the surface of what the cost of living crisis is doing to women, men, children, parents, older people, young people, disabled people, unpaid carers, ethnic minorities and many more in every corner of Northern Ireland. The impact that this is having on people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing is severe.

The situation only looks likely to get worse in the coming months. New research predicts a fuel poverty rate of over 70% in Northern Ireland by January 2023. This means over 1.4 million people here will be struggling to afford their energy bills. The much-discussed ‘heat or eat’ dilemma has almost become irrelevant, because many households in Northern Ireland will go to bed this winter both cold and hungry.

It is in that context that we are making a collective call for our political leaders to overcome the present difficulties and form a new Executive without delay.

Stormont has significant policy-making powers – particularly in regard to social security – that could be deployed to shield local households from the poverty and destitution so many are already facing, and that so many more are at risk of in the time ahead. We urgently need the institutions to return, set a multi-year budget and deliver the policy solutions that people in Northern Ireland need.

Failure to do so does not just have a human cost, but an economic one as well. Increased ill-health, poorer educational outcomes and less spending in local businesses are all by-products of poverty, and are all harmful to Northern Ireland’s economy.

Spiraling living costs have, and will continue, to effect hundreds of thousands of households across Northern Ireland. Political inaction in the face of such a devastating crisis is simply not an option.


Yours sincerely,

Gavin Adams . Director, Extern NI

Dr Brigitte Anton. Volunteer, Renters Voice

Pat Austin. Chair, Fuel Poverty Coalition NI

Joan Ballantine. Professor of Accounting, Ulster University

Stephen Barr. Service Manager, Start360

Prof John Barry. Co-Director and Professor, Centre for Sustainability, Equality and Climate Action, QUB

Caroline Birch. Operations Manager, Charter NI

Kendall Bousquet. Advocacy Officer, Migrant Centre NI

Michael Briggs. Executive Director, East Belfast Community Development Agency

Paul Brown. Director of Youth Ministries, Knock Presbyterian Church

Emma Campbell. Co Convenor, Alliance for Choice.

Dr Alexandra Chapman. Lecturer, School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences, Ulster University

Pat Colton. Service Manager, Advice Space

Kerry Anthony. Chief Executive, Inspire

Briege Arthurs. Chief Executive, Forward South Partnership

David Babington. Chief Executive, Action Mental Health

Lorna Ballard. Director of Northern Ireland Action for Children

Catherine Barr. Director, Women's Centre Derry

Paula Beattie. Policy and Campaigns Manager, RNIB NI

Dr Fiona Bloomer. Senior Lecturer, School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences, Ulster University

Alexandra Brennan. Coordinator, NI Women's Budget Group

Charlene Brooks. Chief Executive Parenting NI

Dominic Bryan. Professor of Anthropology, School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, QUB

David Carroll. Chief Executive, Depaul

Sarah Christie. Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Macmillan

Catherine Cooke. Coordinator, Foyle Women’s Information Network

Yvonne Corbett. Project Manager, First Steps Women's Centre

Louise Coyle. Director, NI Rural Women's Network

Rev John Cunningham. St Patrick's Parish Church, Ballymacarrett

Claire Curran. Head of Services, Survivors of Suicide

Rachael Davison. Centre Manager, Walkway Community Association

Rayna Downey. Outreach Project Worker, Women's Regional Consortium

Carolyn Ewart. National Director, British Association of Social Workers NI

Chloe Ferguson. President, NUS-USI

Orla Fitzsimons. Chief Executive, Parent Action NI

Michelle Fullerton. Senior Youth Worker, Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club Trust

Martin Gallagher. Fuel Poverty Coalition Member, Unison National Retired Members’ Committee

Matthew Gault. Church Plant Leader, Tullycarnet Church

Georgina Grieve. Chief Executive, The Workspace Group

Craig Harrison. Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Carers NI

Sarah Corrigan. Director of Innovation and Engagement, Law Centre NI

Helen Crickard. Coordinator, Reclaim the Agenda

Chris Cupples. Chief Executive, Belfast YMCA

Jonny Currie. Northern Ireland Lead, The Trussell Trust

Gerard Daye. Secretary, Mount Eagles Drive Action Group

Jo Daykin-Goodall. Chief Executive, The Welcome Organisation

Joanne Farrell. Welfare Advice Manager, Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre

Ellen Finlay. Policy and Development Manager, Samaritans NI

Dr Ciara Fitzpatrick. Lecturer, School of Law, Ulster University

Susan Fleming. Focus: The Identity Trust

Prof Tony Gallagher. Professor of Education, School of Social Sciences, Education & Social Work, QUB

Carmel Gates. General Secretary, NIPSA

Karen Hall. Head of Northern Ireland Mental Health Foundation

Siobhán Harding. Research and Policy Officer, Women's Support Network

Dr Kevin Hearty. Lecturer, School of Social Sciences, Education & Social Work, QUB

Nichola Hughes. Director, Sustainable NI

Janet Hunter. Chief Executive, Housing Rights

Eleanor Jordan. Centre Manager, Windsor Women's Centre

Paddy Kelly. Director, Children's Law Centre

Madeleine Leonard. Professor of Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast

Isobel Loughran. Chief Executive, Footprints Womens Centre

Seamus McAleavey. Chief Executive, NICVA

Naomi McBurney. Co-Founder, Parent Engagement Group

James McCabe. Chair, Mount Eagles Ratepayers Association

Bernie McConnell. Senior Development Officer, Short Strand Community Forum

Susan McCrory. Centre Manager, Falls Women's Centre

Rosemarie McDonnell. Manager, Community Advice Newry Mourne & Down

Keelan McGaghran. Area Housing Manager, Radius Housing Association

Prof Colin Harvey. Professor of Human Rights Law, School of Law, QUB

Clodagh Holland. Welfare Advice Officer, Apex Housing Association

Andrew Irvine. Chief Executive, East Belfast Mission

Michele Janes. Director, Barnardo's NI

Elizabeth Law. Member, NI Women’s Budget Group

Gareth Lee. Collective member, Queer Space Belfast

Aoife Mallon. Policy Assistant, Women’s Resource and Development Agency

Marie Marin. Chief Executive, Employers For Childcare

Paula McAliskey. Engagement Officer, NI Rural Women's Network

Maria McCloskey. Director, The PILS Project

Sara McCracken. Chief Executive, Angel Eyes NI

Sarah McCully Russell. Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer, Parkinson's UK Northern Ireland

Fergal McFerran. Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Children's Law Centre

Dr Paschal McKeown. Charity Director, Age NI

Roisin McLaughlin. Manager, North West Community Network

Sorcha McPhillips. Chief Executive, Huntington’s Disease Association NI

Anne McVicker. Director, Women’s Resource and Development Agency

Clare Moore. Equality Officer, Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Peter O’Callaghan. Project Manager, Smartmove Housing

Aodhan O'Donnell. Director, Power to Switch

Laura O'Dowd. Director of Housing, Ark Housing Association

Clare Patton. Lecturer, School of Law, Queen's University Belfast

Dr Michael Pierse. Senior Lecturer, School of Arts, English and Languages, QUB

Eamon Quinn. Director, Engage with Age

Danielle Roberts. Senior Policy Development Officer, Here NI

Tracey Ripley-McElvogue. Chairperson, Scaffolding Project

Michael Roddy. Manager, Omagh Independent Advice Services

Beverley Savage. Development Officer (Specialist) NI tide (together in dementia everyday)

Mary McManus. Coordinator, East Belfast Living Wage Campaign

Dr Dominic McSherry. Reader in Psychology, School of Psychology, Ulster University

Jamie Miller. Policy and Campaigns Officer, National Energy Action NI

Ciaran Moynagh. Director, Phoenix Law Solicitors

Sean O'Connell. Professor of Modern British and Irish Social History, HAPP, Queen’s University Belfast

Alasdair O’Hara. Associate Director for Northern Ireland, Stroke Association

Declan Owens. Chief Executive, Ecojustice Ireland

Karen Purdy. Manager, Bloomfield Community Association

Chris Quinn. Director, NI Youth Forum

Bob Quigley. Co-ordinator, ASK Advice Service

Eilish Rooney. Scholar Emeritus, Ulster University

Susan Russam. Chief Executive, GEMS NI

Dr Michelle Rouse. Lecturer, School of Applied Social and Policy, Sciences, Ulster University

Janet Schofield. Chief Executive, Compass Advocacy Network

Maire Scott. Chairperson, Lagmore Community Forum

Robyn Scott. Equality Coalition Coordinator, Committee on the Administration of Justice

Dr Mark Simpson. Senior Lecturer, School of Law, Ulster University

Gay Sherry-Bingham. Centre Manager, Atlas Womens Centre

Mathilda Taulbutt. Chair, Advice NI

Joanne Vance. Director, Community Development and Health Network

Heather Wilson. Policy and Engagement Manager, Chartered Institute of Housing NI

Gareth Wright. Group chair, Ardcarn Local Residents Group

Patrick Yu. Secretary of Trustees Board, Northern Ireland Council for Racial Equality

Prof Phil Scraton. Professor Emeritus, School of Law, Queen's University Belfast

Victoria Simms. Professor of Developmental Psychology, School of Psychology, Ulster University

Mo Sykes. Director, Rape Crisis NI

Nuala Toman. Head of Policy, Disability Action

Ailish Teague. Project Manager, Life Change Changes Lives

Craig Wilson. Team Leader, East Belfast Prince’s Trust Programme

Tom Woolley. Chair, Ecological Design Association NI

Ricky Wright. Chief Executive, Vineyard Compassion


Last updated: Jul 03 2023

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