NI home energy bills to be capped from November – but businesses ‘left in dark’ over relief package

There are calls for more information on energy efficiency programs for homes and businesses in Northern Ireland after the UK Government announced plans.

It has been confirmed that household energy bills will be capped here from November, with support to be backdated to October to ensure NI residents reap the same benefits from the scheme being rolled out across the rest of the UK.

“This will come into effect from November but the Government will ensure that households receive support so that they see the overall benefit in the same way as households in the UK who are backdating support for October bills with November bills,” the government said government announced.

However, no update was provided on the government’s plans to help with the cost of heating oil at home.

Meanwhile, trade groups are demanding more details on how an energy support package for UK businesses will be applied here.

Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg MP unveiled a range of measures to ease energy bills on Wednesday.

The plan envisages cutting wholesale energy costs for businesses by up to less than half their expected price during the winter months.

They will see federally funded cuts to their energy bills that match the already announced home cuts.

However, there are no details on how it is applied here.

The Government has confirmed: “A parallel scheme is being set up in Northern Ireland, based on the same criteria and offering comparable support but recognizing the different market fundamentals.”

Colin Neill, CEO of Hospitality Ulster, warned businesses they cannot afford to remain in the dark.

“It is simply unacceptable that Northern Irish companies do not have details of how support is being provided,” he said.

“We urgently need clarity on how these measures will be taken forward.

“Thousands of companies are on the brink, many worried about how they will survive the winter.”

Just like the energy price guarantee for households, the move effectively puts a cap on the unit price cost of electricity and gas charged to businesses.

The energy bill relief scheme means those with fixed-term contracts agreed on or after April 1 will see wholesale prices capped at £211 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for electricity and £75 per MWh for gas.

Due to the lack of function managers, there will be a delay in the introduction of the programs.

“The cost of the energy crisis is a real threat to people’s jobs, livelihoods and businesses,” warned Mr Neill.

“At the beginning of our busiest time, hospitality is instead about how to keep the lights on.

“It’s completely unsustainable for businesses to continue paying these crippling energy bills while grappling with a labor shortage and rising costs for other overheads, including groceries and ingredients.”

Mr Neill called for further support measures including a cut in the VAT rate and a bank holiday for business tariffs.

“We can no longer wait for government intervention,” he added.

“Ahead of the Chancellor’s unveiling of the ‘Plan for Growth’ on Friday, direct intervention and support for businesses in Northern Ireland must be announced and implemented. “Hospitality will have a third dark winter in a row without them.” NI home energy bills to be capped from November – but businesses ‘left in dark’ over relief package

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