Fuel price crisis: £2m of additional payments on the way

Around 20,000 households across Northern Ireland who are severely impacted by rising fuel prices are to benefit from new emergency payments, the Department for Communities has announced.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has revealed that additional emergency payments will be made available in a new scheme opening on January 6 in a bid to help those in need.

The Department for Communities, in collaboration with Bryson Charitable Group, the Consumer Council and a range of local energy companies, will contribute £2 million to an Emergency Fuel Payment Scheme.

The scheme, which aims to benefit 20,000 families, will run until March 31, 2022.

Concerns raised over rising energy costs.

Minister Hargey said: “The unprecedented energy price rises have meant that those who are already struggling financially are facing added pressures during the winter months and there is therefore a need for an immediate response.

“This additional funding is vital in providing emergency financial support to vulnerable families to meet their energy costs and where it is essential to protect people’s mental health and physical wellbeing.

“The scheme is an excellent example of government working together with private companies and the voluntary and community sector to benefit those in need of support in the time ahead.”

Noyona Chundur, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council welcomed the scheme, saying: “We are delighted to have facilitated the establishment of a scheme that will help ease the heavy burden of energy price rises for 20,000 households this winter.

“We welcome the substantial financial support provided by the Department for Communities, the operational expertise provided by Bryson Charitable Group, and the practical and financial support provided by 11 companies from across the energy sector who have pledged over £250k in donations to the scheme.

“We hope this will lead to future collaboration between Government, regulators, consumer advocacy bodies, and the energy sector on initiatives to tackle the causes of fuel poverty.”