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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Cllr McAuley Welcomes Energy Payment Support Scheme Announcement

Since March 2021, electricity and gas prices have increased by an average of 32% and 53% respectively. Home heating oil prices have also spiked to levels not seen since 2018 with prices this year having increased by 75% from the previous year.

This has resulted in many individuals, and in particular those on low incomes, without additional support, struggling to heat their homes or pay their energy bills.

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Cllr McAuley welcomed the news that Today, the NI Executive have approved delivery of a £55 million Energy Payment Support Scheme for vulnerable individuals on low incomes who are struggling to meet rising energy costs due to the global fuel crisis.

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Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey announced the £55 million Energy Payment Support Scheme with 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. 

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“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.”

Individuals will be eligible for this payment if, during the qualifying week (Monday 13th December to Sunday 19th December 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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