She was speaking after the Utility Regulator said gas bills could increase by more than £100 a year due to increases in international wholesale prices.
Ms McLaughlin recently met with the Utility Regulator to discuss price increases.
Said the Foyle MLA: “The news that gas prices are set to increase follows similar increases by electricity companies across the board earlier this year.
“These hikes will hit the pockets of people across the North, with many already struggling as we try and emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Price hikes will be most keenly felt by the worst off in our communities.
“These increased costs come at a time when Sinn Féin Communities Minister Deidre Hargey is preparing to rubber stamp a Universal Credit cut of over £1,000 a year, which has been imposed by the British Government.
“People are having their benefits cut by a huge amount, while at the same time being told gas prices are likely to increase by £1,200 a year.
“This will only force the worst off in our communities further into poverty and create demand at our food banks and other charity organisations.
“Instead of the removal of the £20 Universal Credit payment Minister Hargey needs to consider how she will respond to the additional pressures on households and she should put a specific hardship fund in place to offset the inevitable winter pressures.
“If the cost of living is set to increase by such a significant amount then we need to see salary and benefit increases to combat this.
“The end of the coronavirus furlough scheme is going to place many workers and businesses in a difficult position and reports like this just create further uncertainty and worry for people who are struggling to make ends meet,” added Ms McLaughlin.Tags: