Pam Brown MLA has said the announcement by Firmus Energy to increase gas prices by 14.4% could put a number of customers under further financial pressure.
“With around 20,000 small business and domestic customers being affected, the implications cannot be ignored,” Ms Brown said.
She added: “Many of our small businesses are struggling to cope financially with the empty units on our high streets, a stark reminder of the difficulties faced by owners.
“For many, this increase could be the final straw.
“Domestic customers will also struggle to manage, particularly coming into the colder months when the demand will be higher.
“The issue of fuel poverty is a reality for a great number of households.”