Written Ministerial Statement

The content of this written ministerial statement is as received at the time from the Minister. It has not been subject to the official reporting (Hansard) process.

Department for Communities - Energy Payment Support Scheme

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Published on 13 January 2022.


Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities): Unprecedented energy price rises have meant that those who are already struggling financially are facing added pressures.

Global wholesale energy prices, especially gas, are increasing at an unprecedented rate and consumers have seen their energy bills rise as a result of the impact of these price increases on the domestic market.

Since March 2021, electricity and gas prices have increased by an average of 32% and 53% respectively. Home heating oil prices have also spiked to levels not seen since 2018 with prices this year having increased by 75% from the previous year.

I am acutely aware that many individuals, and in particular those on low incomes, without additional support, may struggle to heat their homes or pay their energy bills.

On 2 November 2021 this Assembly agreed to a Motion on Rising Energy Costs and called for a means-tested winter energy emergency fund to be created to help those in need. You will recall that I advised that my officials were seeking to develop a scheme, that I would bid for the £13.8m Barnett consequential of the Household Support Fund but that to provide meaningful support more funding was needed.

Today, I want to tell you that I have secured the support from the Executive to deliver a £55 million Energy Payment Support Scheme for vulnerable individuals on low incomes who are struggling to meet rising energy costs due to the global fuel crisis.

This will include a one-off payment of £200 being made automatically to around 280,000 eligible individuals in receipt of specified benefits by the middle of March. The payment will be made through existing payment channels, without the need for an application.

Individuals will be eligible for a payment if, during the qualifying week (Monday 13th December to Sunday 19th December 2021 inclusive), they were ordinarily resident here and were in receipt of one of the following social security benefits –

  • Pension Credit;
  • Universal Credit;
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance;
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance;
  • Income Support.

Payments will be made on an individual, rather than a household, basis and individuals will only be eligible for one payment, even if they are in receipt of more than one benefit.

This funding is vital in providing further financial support and assurance to vulnerable individuals who are already struggling financially to meet their energy costs and to supporting people in maintaining their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

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