In 2022, amidst the ongoing energy crisis, the UK government announced plans for delivering financial support to households in Northern Ireland—and now it has finally begun to reach them.
It was confirmed that the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme would be topped up with the £200 Alternative Fuels Payment as a single payment of £600 for all households in Northern Ireland. This would be paid via customers’ electricity suppliers.
What is the Energy Bill Support scheme?
The Energy Bill Support Payment scheme was first announced by the UK government in May 2022. Households in England, Wales and Scotland will have their electricity bills reduced by a total of £400 over six months (October 2022 to March 2023). Northern Ireland was to receive similar levels of support, but the mechanics of this were unconfirmed due to the collapse of Stormont and the different energy market that exists here.
£200 extra was to be issued for those in Northern Ireland under the Alternative Fuel Payment scheme as a higher proportion of households, around two thirds of homes here use heating oil.
Am I eligible to receive payment?
If you pay for electricity in Northern Ireland, then yes—you should receive this support payment.
Do I need to pay direct debit to receive the payment?
Those who pay for electricity by direct debit will receive the £600 support payment into their bank account.
Those, however, that use a Pay-As-You-Go / keypad meter will receive the support payment via a voucher instead. This voucher can then be redeemed at a Post Office, either by transferring it to a bank account or withdrawing it as cash. When redeeming your voucher, be sure to bring with you the voucher letter, a proof of address, photographic ID, and a bank card (if you want to transfer the payment to this account). Keypad customers will also need to bring their top-up card or app.
When will I receive my payment?
If you have not already received your £600 payment directly into your bank account, don’t worry. Electricity suppliers have been advised to begin issuing vouchers and funds within 11 working days of the money being transferred to them. Therefore, you can expect your payment to be with you after 16th January and before 28th February.
If you have not received your payment by 28th February, contact your supplier.
Power NI customers can also check the status of their payment voucher on the company’s website.
There are various more complicated circumstances in which you may be concerned about this payment. For instance, if the account holder has died, or if you have recently moved house before the payment arrives. For these sorts of questions, refer to Advice NI’s webpage for up to date guidance and clarification.
If you are unable to take your voucher to the Post Office yourself, you can nominate someone to redeem it on your behalf. There will be a form to fill in on the bank of the voucher to provide written authorisation for the person you want to redeem the voucher on your behalf.
Key Information about the the payment
- The payment or voucher will be paid to all domestic electricity customers (with a domestic meter type and domestic supply contract).
- The payment or voucher will be from your electricity supplier, determined by who your electricity supplier is on 02 January 2023.
- If you are switching suppliers, you will still be able to proceed with switch and get the payment, but it may come from your old supplier.
- The exact date you will receive your payment has not been confirmed, but you should receive your payment before 28 February 2023.
- You do not need to apply for the payment or voucher, and you do not need to contact your supplier.
- You should not need to provide any bank details other than what your supplier already has. If you receive any calls, letters, texts or emails asking for this information, it is likely to be a scam.
- For those receiving a voucher, the voucher will be valid until 31 March 2023 so you will need to redeem it before this date.
- If you are a household that does not have a domestic electricity account (e.g., park home residents, some care homes, farmers living in domestic farmhouse without domestic connection, households off grid), equivalent payments will be made. Further details to be published.
Are you struggling to cover costs?
If you are having difficulty covering your energy bills at the moment, you can check out a few top tips on how to save more money and get the most out of your energy deal:
- Get on the best tariff: Check what tariff you are on with your current supplier. If you are on standard rate this is usually their most expensive. Many suppliers will offer a discount tariff rate (usually for the first year). It is possible to find tariffs with discounts of up to 30%, which can help offset price increases.
- Cashback deals: Many tariffs also come with additional perks such as cashbacks or free credit for keypad deals. It’s always worth checking out these deals to see if they suit what you need and help keep costs lower.
- Billing and Payment: If you are on a bill pay deal where you pay every month or quarter, how you are billed and how you pay can affect how much you pay. Often the best deals are available to customers who choose Direct Debit and online bills.
- Renegotiate: If you like your current supplier and don’t want to switch you should try to renegotiate for reduced costs. Often a supplier will offer an existing customer a better deal as it can be easier to hold on to a current customer than attract a new one.
- Switch to a better deal: Some people may feel that if most suppliers are increasing prices, what is the point of switching? The key here is that not all suppliers have increased their costs, and that even if they do, all of these suppliers purchase their energy in different ways and are therefore able to offer different deals.
Switching to a better deal
For those seeking better value often the best option at the moment is to switch. On average people who switch electricity suppliers using Power to Switch have saved on average £341. Switching is quick, hassle free and means you keep more money in your pocket – you don’t even have to tell your old supplier you are leaving.