Open letter on the cost of living crisis in Northern Ireland

Published on
21 September 2022

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.

Cost of living crisis

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. [1] 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, QUB
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