Derry & Strabane £100 emergency fund closes within hours due to flood of applications

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Derry City & Strabane District Council has confirmed it has been forced to close its emergency home heating fund to new applicants the same day it opened due to a massive response from those in need.

The scheme, designed to help 2,400 struggling households across the city and district with £100 towards heating oil or electricity, only opened on Tuesday morning but by Tuesday afternoon at 4pm the Council was force to close it to new applicants and referrals.

In a statement on its website the Council said: “The Council has received a substantially higher number of referrals than the number of households able to receive a fuel payment.“The next stage of the process will be to collate all the referral forms into each District Electoral Area on the basis of their postcode and to work with the partners to review the paperwork and eligibility details. Anyone who made a referral will receive a communication from the Council within the next few days.”

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The Council have cautioned that not everyone who applied so far will be able to be helped.

People gathered at a previous Derry Against Fuel Poverty rally in the city.People gathered at a previous Derry Against Fuel Poverty rally in the city.
People gathered at a previous Derry Against Fuel Poverty rally in the city.

"Given the scale of the cost of living crisis and the response to the referral scheme, unfortunately the funding available will only reach a small proportion of those who applied and need support.“The Council is currently working through next stages of the processes involved and hope to be in a position to start payments from next week,” it stated.

Derry City and Strabane District Council devised the Hardship Fund scheme as a standalone to try to help people who are struggling in response to the ongoing cost of living crisis.

The purpose of this programme is to provide a one-off emergency fuel payment of £100 to a household in a financial emergency and is specifically designed for households who are unable to pay their most recent fuel bill or to get a fuel top up.

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A breakdown of the number of homes to be helped in each area has also been shared after being worked out by population, deprivation and rurality: Ballyarnett - 420; Derg - 310; Faughan - 241; Foyleside - 248; Moor - 374; Sperrin - 202; Strabane - 227; Waterside - 383.