Northern Ireland customers start to receive energy vouchers as police warn of scams

Johanne Black was the first person at her local post office to redeem an energy support voucher on Saturday afternoon.

The mum-of-two from Bangor has already used some of the six hundreds pounds to top-up both her electricity and gas.

"It's very welcome, we've had a warm house yesterday and today," said Johanne.

Johanne wasn't expecting the letter, which was addressed to the 'The Occupier', to arrive so early.

She's warning other people to stay alert and not assume the white envelope is junk mail.

Around half a million households will receive vouchers over the coming weeks, with the roll-out being phased.

Those eligible are energy customers who do not pay by direct debit.

The vouchers are only redeemable through the post office, and can either be deposited into your bank account or cashed in.

"What I will say is, please be patient. They won't all arrive today but this is the start of the roll-out," said Mark Gibson from the Post Office.

He estimates it will take four to five weeks for everyone to receive their letters.

"Don't panic if your neighbour gets it and you don't, we need to do this in a manageable way," said Mr Gibson.

The vouchers, which will come in envelopes like this, can only be redeemed through the post office. Credit: UTV

The PSNI is also warning households to be aware of scams that have already been detected in other parts of the UK.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Pollock said: "How we saw that operate was in the form of emails and text messages offering support in to claim."

Mr Pollock said people should remember there's no other way to claim the money other than the voucher, or automatic bank transfers to direct debit customers.

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