SDLP MP for South Down has tabled a motion at Westminster that hits out at the UK government for the spiralling cost of living. Ms Ritchie said: “People across the north of Ireland are facing a daily struggle as the cost of living rises year on year. Households are facing rising fuel costs, increased energy bills and an ever more expensive weekly grocery shopping. Just today we have learned that many consumers here will face a further 18% rise in the cost of electricity.

dn_screen“A recent report showed that wages are worth 8% less in real terms than they were three years ago as the result of inflation and the VAT increase. It is therefore not a surprise that nearly half of the people in Northern Ireland are concerned that they won’t be able to make ends meet. Matters are made worse here as we have some of the highest energy and fuel prices in the EU.

“The UK government seem intent on marginalising the hard-up through measures such as the bedroom tax and capping welfare increases below inflation, rather than helping those who are facing the worst impacts of the economic downturn.

“Instead I would call on the government to look at policies that encourage growth such a targeted VAT reduction for the tourism and hospitality sector. We need to bring confidence back to the economy and this won’t happen while people face a day-to- day struggle to pay the bills,” added Ms Ritchie.