Fuel payments coming ‘soon’ but 'not soon enough' warns Derry Mayor

Derry and Strabane representatives have heard the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme and the Alternative Fuels Payment would be released ‘soon’.

Mayor, Sinn Féin councillor Sandra Duffy explained she had challenged the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office on the matter a few weeks ago.

“I had the Minister for the north, Steve Baker, here to sign the book of condolence for Creeslough and I took the opportunity to challenge him on the £400 payment and the only clarity I could get was ‘soon’”, she said. “I don’t know how soon ‘soon’ is but not soon enough for the very many people I have been talking to.”

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The lack of clarity on when households will be able to avail of the payments was raised at the November meeting of full council by SDLP councillor Rory Farrell at the Governance and Strategic Planning Committee. He said: “I had hoped we would have had some sort of clarity by now but we don’t.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Sandra Duffy. (Photo: Jim McCafferty Photography)

“Nobody has a clue, nobody has a notion, nobody has any idea when this money is going to be made available.

“To make matters worse the British Chancellor during the Autumn statement made the announcement that every household across the north is going to get £400. He hasn’t said when and he further said every household is going to get an extra £200 and, yet again, no date has been provided.

“We are asking for clarity and all we are being given is uncertainty and all the while we have thousands of families all across this city and district that are being crippled by the cost of living, being crippled by inflation who haven’t had a penny in support that they desperately need and they are no clearer when they are going to get this or if they are going to get it.

“I think it’s a shambles. We need answers but more importantly the public need answers.”

Fuel costs crisis.

Making an amendment to his October proposal, the Ballyarnett elected representative called for council to write to the Secretary of State and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to understand when households in the north will avail of the promised £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme and £200 Alternative Fuels Payment. The amendment passed.

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Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter