I am writing to you as the latest tranche of energy price hikes come into force in Northern Ireland, putting further pressure on the cost of living.
You will recall that we wrote to you on March 7 and separately on March 22 to urge timely and practical action to support struggling households across the UK. While the measures announced since the Spring Statement are constructive, I do not believe they leverage the full range of tools available to government to provide relief in this unprecedented time. More help is needed and the need is intensifying.
Energy costs are skyrocketing for both business and home users and fuel costs are hitting home for working families who now regularly pay £200 a week to power their vehicles. Nearly 50% of this cost comes from duties, VAT and environmental taxes. It’s time to ease the tax burden on working families.
However, any discount must be applicable to all parts of the UK and its benefits must be available directly to consumers in Northern Ireland. It is unjustifiable that the powers granted to the European Union in relation to VAT in Northern Ireland under the Protocol should constitute an obstacle to the achievement of this parity.
The introduction of NI protocol legislation is welcome. I urge you to confront any EU blockages to extending tax cuts to Northern Ireland. The fact that energy systems in Britain can benefit from zero VAT but not in Northern Ireland is a concrete example of the folly of the protocol.
It is essential that action is taken now to address the crushing costs facing our households and businesses.
Such measures should be taken in a way that provides equal benefits to all British citizens, in accordance with the constitutional traditions of the United Kingdom.
For our part, we continue to discuss with the other Parties in Northern Ireland the options available to provide assistance to households here. In particular, we want to use the levers at our disposal to reduce tariff bills and the cost of childcare for active families.
I hope you will give these issues the attention they deserve.
Right Honorable Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, 91 Dundela Avenue, Belfast BT4