Cost of living crisis: Credit union heating loans ‘nearly doubled in a month’

Oil remains the most common way to heat homes in Northern Ireland

That’s according to the Ballymena and Causeway Credit Union, which lowered the interest rate on their loans as a ‘goodwill gesture’ amid the cost of living crisis.

Soaring costs for heating oil as well as diesel and gasoline have come on top of a sharp rise in prices for food and other basic necessities in recent weeks.

As soaring inflation continues to plague the UK, in Northern Ireland the cost of heating oil has in some cases almost doubled.

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Julie Martin, Marketing Manager at Ballymena and Causeway Credit Union, said: “We would still have had a home heating loan in place at a lower rate, which is only for home heating.

“On February 25, we implemented a home heating reduction because we know times are tough for everyone at the moment.

“Our normal rate is 8% and we have lowered it to 4.9%.

“It was done as a goodwill gesture, really, to help people out and let them know we’re here.”

She continued, “People are struggling. We would even find that a few people contacted us to say that they were having difficulty repaying their loans, because of the cost of everything per minute.

“Our home heating loans have almost doubled in the last month.

“The average member would have withdrawn £300 before the increase and now the average is £570.”

The cost of fuel also continued to rise.

Diesel prices now approaching £2 a liter were reported in parts of Northern Ireland yesterday.

A petrol station in Waringstown was selling diesel for £195.9.

Meanwhile, more than two-fifths (42%) of families with children living at home expect to take on more debt to cope with soaring energy bills, according to a financial confidence tracker.

A third (33%) of families with children said they had struggled to pay their household bills in the past week, according to the survey conducted in mid-February.

And almost a fifth (19%) of people without children at home think the energy cost crisis will push them into more debt.

Alex Hasty, director of comparethemarket.com, said: “Many households are facing a significant increase in spending and could be pushed into debt.”

About a third (32%) of households with children at home are not confident about meeting their financial obligations in the coming weeks, with one in five (21%) households without children feeling the same way. Comparethemarket’s findings are based on a survey of 2,100 people across the UK.

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