Department for Communities announces £55million Energy Payment Support Scheme

By Sophie McLaughlin

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has announced a £55million Energy Payment Support Scheme for vulnerable people struggling to meet rising energy costs due to the global fuel crisis.

A one-off payment of £200 will be made automatically to around 280,000 eligible people in receipt of specified benefits. The payment will be made through existing payment channels, without the need for an application.

Minister Hargey said: “Huge hikes in energy prices have placed even more pressure on people who are already struggling this winter.

“That’s why I am providing a one-off payment of £200 to support those people and families who, without additional support, may struggle to heat their homes or pay their energy bills.

“I know the impact that rising global energy prices are having on people on low incomes and I have secured this funding in order to protect people from the worst impacts.

“These payments will be made as soon as practically possible.”

It comes after Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill and MLA Caoimhe Archibald met with the Utility Regulator and Consumer Council today to discuss the pressures facing families due to increases in the cost of gas, oil and electricity.

Ms O'Neill has said that solutions are needed to help families with their energy costs and that Sinn Fein has called on the Government to remove VAT from bills.

Individuals will be eligible for this payment if, during the qualifying week (Monday, December 13 to Sunday, December 19 2021 inclusive), they were in receipt of one or more of the following benefits:

  • Pension Credit;
  • Universal Credit;
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance;
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance; or
  • Income Support.

The Minister continued: “My Department continues to offer a range of support to assist vulnerable people on low incomes who are in fuel poverty. This includes schemes to help improve the energy efficiency of their homes, as well as Cold Weather and Winter Fuel Payments and Discretionary Support.

“This funding is vital in providing further financial support to help vulnerable people meet their energy costs and to supporting people in maintaining their physical and mental health and wellbeing.”

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