£400 energy support 'will reach' NI this winter: Govt 'working tirelessly' says Grant Shapps' dept

A Westminster government department has said people in Northern Ireland can ‘rest assured’ that the full energy support payment will reach them this winter.

Grant Shapps’ Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) told the Journal that the payments, which are already being rolled out in Britain, will be coming soon.

There has been widespread confusion over when and how the payments will be paid, but a BEIS spokesperson said they were working with energy companies in the north of Ireland to

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In England, the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBBS) is being paid in instalments to energy providers between now and spring to be deducted from households bills.

Minister of State for Immigration Robert Jenrick (L) and Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Grant Shapps (R) leave 10 Downing Street on Thursday. (Photo by Rob Pinney/Getty Images)

A BEIS spokesperson said: “Customers in Northern Ireland can rest assured that the full payment will reach them this winter.

"We are working tirelessly to make this happen. EBSS will be delivered by the UK Government in partnership with Northern Ireland electricity suppliers and there will be an announcement as soon as the details are agreed.”

The work to deliver the payments was initiated by a Ministerial Taskforce which met in August. It concluded that due to the absence of a fully functioning Executive, and the risk that it would not be re-established in time to deliver the support this winter, arrangements should be made by central government in London.

Consequently BEIS said it has been working with energy suppliers, the regulator UREGNI and a wider stakeholder group to ensure ‘a fair and robust scheme is delivered which helps all households in Northern Ireland with the high costs of energy this winter’.

Ministers across government and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris are understood to have been involved in working through the complexities of delivering the scheme here.

It is understood there are likely to be some differences between the England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland schemes though, due to the variation in the way the energy market operates in Northern Ireland. For example, some customers on prepayment meters in Britain are receiving vouchers.

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Alternative, market-specific, arrangements will be made for the comparable customer group in Northern Ireland, where vouchers are not used.

Households in Northern Ireland which do not have a direct contract with an electricity supplier or an electricity meter of their own – for example, park homes – will receive a £400 discount off their energy bills under the Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding, as in Great Britain.

Further details on eligibility, delivery method and timing will be announced in the coming weeks.

Other measures to support households and businesses in Northern Ireland in addition to the Energy Bills Support Scheme are the Energy Price Guarantee, which was launched on November 1, which reduces the price energy suppliers charge customers for units of gas and electricity, providing money off energy bills. Households will receive backdated support to cover for October 2022 through a higher discount rate.

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The Alternative Fuel Payment (AFP) of £200 for people reliant on oil heating in their homes was confirmed by the Chancellor.

The Energy Bill Relief Scheme NI applies to all eligible non-domestic electricity and natural gas customers, including businesses, charities, and the public sector who receive their gas or electricity from licensed suppliers.

Whilst the scheme applies to energy use from 1 October, savings applied to October bills are typically received in November - meaning businesses in NI should start to feel the benefits in November.

The Government announced back in September that it will also provide support to non-domestic consumers using alternative fuels in NI, with further details expected soon.