Households in Northern Ireland will be able to redeem £600 energy support voucher at Post Offices

Energy suppliers are expected to begin posting out vouchers in mid-January

The UK Government has confirmed that households in Northern Ireland will be able to redeem a £600 energy support payment voucher at Post Offices.

Direct debit customers will receive the funds directly into their bank accounts while households on standard credit or pre-paid keypads will be issued with a voucher.

These can be deposited into bank accounts or cashed at Post Officers.

Energy suppliers are expected to begin posting out vouchers in mid-January.

The one-off payment of £600 includes £400 promised as part of a UK-wide support scheme and an additional £200 in recognition of Northern Ireland's dependence on home heating oil.

Energy customers elsewhere in the UK have already begun to receive support payments.

The roll-out in Northern Ireland was delayed, with the Government citing the lack of powersharing executive in Belfast as a major factor in the hold-up.

Energy and climate minister Graham Stuart said the most vulnerable customers would get priority access.

"We are determined to ensure that whatever their circumstances, every customer in Northern Ireland gets the support they are entitled to," he said.

"Those without direct debits set up, and those on prepayment meters, will from January start to get these important vouchers which will provide vital help with their bills.

"Those already paying by direct debit will get the support straight into their bank accounts.

"I would urge those customers getting vouchers to look out for them, and to use them swiftly so they can benefit, and see the impact on their bills as soon as possible."

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris said: "This is welcome news for many Northern Ireland households who do not pay for their electricity via direct debit and I hope provides further reassurance as we enter the new year.

"I appreciate the hard work from officials and NI stakeholders to overcome the difficulties presented by NI's energy market, and the absence of the NI Executive, to ensure NI households receive this much-needed support this winter."

The easiest way people can redeem their voucher will be paying the money directly into their bank account by taking their bank card to the post office and requesting to deposit.

For those without a bank or credit union account, going to the post office and redeeming for cash will be an option - but that will be subject to the branch having the cash available.

Nick Read, chief executive at the Post Office, said: "Our 500 post offices across Northern Ireland are at the heart of their communities and postmasters are preparing for the vital role they will play in getting people the £600 support they are entitled to from mid-January.

"It's vital that anyone who doesn't pay for their energy usage by direct debit, or have a prepaid meter, looks out for their voucher in the post.

"Before coming to the post office, make sure to bring your letter, the correct proof of address and photo identification, as this will speed things up in branch."

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