Better late than never: Belfast shoppers glad £600 payment is en route

Belfast city centre is abuzz with shoppers parting ways with their precious cash, days before Santa comes.

A constant stream of festive spenders flows in and out of the continental market at City Hall, and at Cornmarket, it seems as though everyone is clutching a bag of Christmas cargo.

I stopped countless passers-by, interrupting their errands, to ask if they were aware that it has emerged the £600 energy payment from the UK Government is due to land from January.

Some had not heard this news, but welcomed it.

Some were aware to some extent, but had further questions regarding how they would access the money.

I explained what we have learned from a government statement - that direct debit electricity customers will receive the payment directly into their bank account, and that other customers who use a prepaid metre or pay quarterly bills will receive a voucher worth £600 which they can redeem.

Details about the way to claim the voucher and how to clear ID checks will be issued in due course, but it has been made clear that people should not contact their energy supplier and that nobody will be asked for their bank details at any point.

Although shoppers had varying levels of knowledge about the developments in the scheme, there was a common theme amid the retail rush.

Most people questioned agreed that they wish the money was made available before Christmas; one of the most costly times of year for those who mark it.

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