Gas and electricity companies reduce costs for Northern Ireland consumers

Energy suppliers must do more to help struggling customers
The Energy Price Guarantee is one of a number of schemes being introduced by the government to assist households with spiraling costs

The UK Government has only said it will publish details on the £400 energy support scheme payment for Northern Ireland "in the coming weeks".

Former Prime Minister Liz Truss said the scheme would be rolled out in November, with the then Economy Minister Gordon Lyons saying he understood it would be this month also. However, Sinn Fein said it would be more likely in the new year following talks with government officials.

The support payment in the rest of UK has already been rolled out.

Mr Lyons called on new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to ensure the support payment was delivered.

"There were promises made by the Boris Johnson administration that this would be delivered on the same basis as the rest of the UK. Liz Truss continued that policy and said it will be with us in November time.

"It is up to Rishi Sunak and his ministers to make sure that will continue to be the case and we will be treated equally to everyone else in the UK."

When contacted by UTV, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said "households in Northern Ireland will receive a £400 discount on bills through the Northern Ireland EBSS. It will be backdated to October."

The department added: "Customers do not need to take any action to receive support. More information will be published in the coming weeks."

The start of November also saw energy companies reducing their costs for households in Northern Ireland as the Energy Price Guarantee came into effect.

The scheme will reduce the unit cost of energy, and will be backdated to 1 October 2022, ensuring support provided in Northern Ireland equates that available in Great Britain.

The EPG was to be in place for two years, however, one of new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's first acts was to cut that to six months until April 2023.

The Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) differs to the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBBS).

As the EPG is implemented, Northern Ireland's Consumer Council has advised consumers to consider switching energy supplier to save money on their bills.

Director of Infrastructure and Sustainability at the Council, Peter McClenaghan said the introduction of the EPG is "welcome" for households in Northern Ireland.

“The scheme will apply a discount to the unit prices of electricity and gas and all suppliers will apply the same discount. This means some energy suppliers’ prices will still be much higher than others, so we are encouraging consumers to think about switching supplier or tariff as some households could make savings of over £500.

“Consumers should know that their exact electricity and gas bills will still depend on how much energy they use – as the scheme is a discount – not a price cap. We also encourage any consumers who are struggling to pay their energy bills or to top-up their meter, to contact their supplier directly for help and information.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.