DETI Committee member Seán Neeson MLA said: “This is another disgraceful price hike that will hit local people really hard. The timing of this announcement is terrible. With food prices also rocketing, some will literally have to choose between food or heat. This is simply unacceptable.
“What has the Energy Regulator done to tackle this problem? I would question how robust the intervention of the regulator was in dealing with this issue. I would also call on the Consumer Council to take strong line and intervene.
“This announcement comes on the day we heard that annual food bills for the average family have increased by £800 in the last year. Now families are also facing on average a £200 increase in their yearly gas bills too. This hike severely heightens the problems facing those affected by fuel poverty.
“I would have hoped that Phoenix would have taken a more sensible approach because many people are finding it very tough to balance the books at the moment. With the credit crunch, the world grain scarcity and rising oil prices it’s those on low incomes who bear the brunt of these crises.”