Concerns over reports of landlords claiming energy support vouchers in Derry

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) Leader Colum Eastwood MP has expressed alarm at reports landlords are claiming energy support payment vouchers intended for their tenants.

Mr Eastwood was speaking after constituents contacted his office for help after their vouchers were taken. Some landlords have since given the vouchers back to their tenants.

Foyle MP Colum Eastwood said: “I am deeply alarmed after having people visit and contact my constituency office seeking assistance after their landlord claimed their £600 energy support payment voucher and told them they were the ones entitled to it. These vouchers were designed to help people struggling with the huge rise in electricity and heating costs, not to further line the pockets of landlords and I am shocked that this is taking place within our community.

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“The guidance is clear – these vouchers are intended for those currently occupying the property and paying for their own energy bills. Even if the current account is in the name of the landlord this voucher is not intended for them and it is completely wrong of them to try and claim it from tenants in need. Those affected are understandably extremely concerned that this has taken place, with many waiting for and relying on this payment to get through the winter, particularly during the cold weather we have been experiencing.

Colum Eastwood

“I have contacted the Post Office to identify what assistance they can give to tenants in this situation and to examine whether landlords can be prevented from wrongly claiming this money. There are people in our community who will need to this voucher to heat their homes and keep putting food on the table and it’s staggering anyone would seek to exploit this situation for their own gain.”

A Post Office spokesperson said: “The Post Office’s role is to help support customers to redeem their vouchers. Post Office had no involvement in the design of the scheme. Any issues with regards to landlords and their tenants should be directed to the energy companies.

“Keypad customers will receive a voucher from their supplier addressed to “The Occupier” of their property and need to bring their keypad card or app to the Post Office to redeem the voucher.”