Armstrong says urgent clarity needed over energy payments after more details emerge

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said urgent clarity is needed on more details around energy payments for people in Northern Ireland, after the UK Government said they would start in January.

Kellie Armstrong energy bill support

The £600 single payment will be made to households, after the Government confirmed electricity firms will be funded for the payments, with direct debit customers receiving the money into their bank accounts. Other customers will be sent a voucher to redeem the payment, with further details still to be released.

Strangford MLA Ms Armstrong said the details showed the most vulnerable would be “at the back of the queue” for help.

“Given how long it has taken us to get to this stage, any movement to give people energy support should be welcomed,” she said.

“However, the details from the UK Government this morning are concerning and urgent clarity is needed. As things stand, those who have bank accounts and direct debits, so therefore more likely to be better off financially, will receive help first and securely.

“Meanwhile, the most vulnerable in society will be left at the back of the queue and likely to be paid last, with details still to be made clear around how and when they will receive support.

“A number of questions remain – for example, when those in temporary accommodation or insecure tenancies will get the payment, how do we prevent victims of coercive control from being further abused for the money, and how do we prevent paramilitaries taking advantage?

“We have had since February to design this scheme and iron out the issues but it is clear that has still not been done. Many concerns remain and the Government needs to answer them urgently.”