Friday, July 29, 2022

By Jonathan McCambridge, PA

People in Northern Ireland need clarity on how they will receive a £400 payment in the autumn to help with energy costs, an Alliance Party MLA has said.

Kellie Armstrong said Northern Ireland risked being left behind with the scheme due to the lack of a functioning executive at Stormont.

It came as the UK government revealed households in Great Britain will get more than £60 off their energy bills each month throughout winter as part of its cost-of-living support measures.

The money, which is part of a package announced in May this year, will come in six instalments over six months to some 29 million households.

Households will see £66 taken off their energy bills in October and November, and £67 between December and March, the Government said.

Ulster powersharing
The Alliance Party’s Kellie Armstrong said people in Northern risked being left behind over energy support (Niall Carson/PA)

However, there has been uncertainty on how Northern Ireland households will receive the payment to help with energy costs.

The region is currently without a functioning executive or Assembly as part of the DUP’s protest against the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol.

Ms Armstrong said: “With repeated energy company price increases, households are concerned how they will be able to afford to heat their homes this winter.

“The proposed £400 energy support scheme provided some hope for homes.

“But without a functioning executive working to take decisions, we remain unclear as to how the support payments will be made here this autumn.

“Questions remain around issues, including if the money is paid to energy companies, how will the public see the benefit?

“Or will tenants who pay electric money to a landlord be able to see if it has been applied further?”

She added: “Northern Ireland is being left behind because of the lack of a government.

“The DUP needs to end its boycott, allow the formation of an Executive and let us gain clarity for these support schemes.”

Cost-of-living crisis support
Finance Minister Conor Murphy has expressed confidence that a mechanism would be found to distribute energy cost support in NI (Mark Marlow/PA)

Earlier this month Stormont Finance Minister Conor Murphy expressed confidence that an agreed mechanism for distributing the cash in Northern Ireland would be found.

He said work with Treasury officials on the issue was ongoing.

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