SDLP leader demands answers on £400 energy payment

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has called on the UK government to provide clarity on a £400 rebate on household energy bills in Northern Ireland.

This winter, the Energy Bills Support Scheme is set to make the payments to every household in the UK and Northern Ireland.

Currently, the Treasury Department is still debating how payments will be made here without a functioning Stormont executive.

In a statement, Mr Eastwood criticized the DUP for refusing to elect a speaker for the assembly over concerns about protocol.

This week Mr Eastwood’s party initiated a recall of the assembly to move things forward, but as expected the vote failed.

“The DUP’s refusal to return to Stormont to support families struggling due to the cost of living crisis has doomed people in the north to an incredibly difficult winter,” he said.

“We are facing a recession, energy bills will continue to climb and fuel poverty will become the norm for people here in the coming months.”

Mr Eastwood said that in the absence of support from Stormont, the UK government needed to do something to ensure people got as much support as possible.

“That’s why I’ve written to the Department of Energy asking them to clarify without delay how people in the North will receive payment for the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme,” he said.

“The reality is that this £400 doesn’t go nearly far enough to support people in this emergency, but with energy bills estimated at £500 by January we need to make sure any support gets to those who need it .

“The DUP have already prevented us from using the £400m+ at Stormont to help people, but it is unthinkable that they are preventing other family support from struggling. We now need confirmation of exactly how this money will be paid out to people and when. Families and workers cannot afford to wait. The SDLP calls for an immediate response.”

Treasury correspondence seen by the Belfast Telegraph said the government was “urgently working to find a way to achieve this as soon as possible”.

Andy Allen, spokesman for the Ulster Unionist community, has also written to the Treasury seeking answers.

Conservative MP Alan Mak, Finance Secretary, replied: “It is right that the people of Northern Ireland should get the equivalent of the support announced on May 26 through the Energy Bill Support Scheme. The UK Government is working urgently to identify a way to provide this support as soon as possible.” SDLP leader demands answers on £400 energy payment

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