Government energy support scheme helps keep utility bills down in Northern Ireland

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The Consumer Council has outlined how energy bills for some have increased while for others they have dropped.

The Post Office has also revealed how more than half of energy support vouchers have been cashed in.

Energy bills are back to what they were around the start of last year, the Consumer Council has said when taking into account the government energy support scheme.

The scheme handed households a single payment of £600 to assist with their energy bills.

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. The scheme had been delayed in NI due to the collapse of Stormont and the difference in the energy market. Homes in the rest of the UK got their payments from October.

According to statistics from the the Consumer Council, most households with electricity and gas will have seen a reduction in their annual bills with the addition of the support scheme.

However, those with electricity and oil heating will have experienced an increase.

With the addition of the £600 from the Government's Energy Bill Support Scheme:

  • Households with electricity and gas in Greater Belfast: Annual energy bills are about 1% less than this time last year (-£17)

  • Households with electricity and gas in the Ten Towns network: Annual energy bills are about 8% less than this time last year (-£136)

  • Households with electricity and oil heating: Annual energy bills are about 4% higher than this time last year (+£84)

The Consumer Council's data shows the average annual bill for an SSE Airtricity gas customer is now £1,103.40 - an increase of 76% since January 2022.

While the average annual bill for a Power NI customer has increased by 14% over the past year to £846.72.

The average annual bill for a Firmus Energy customer in the Ten Towns area has risen by 37% since last January and is now £1,326.72.

And the price of home heating oil is around 50% more expensive than the same time last year.

Direct debit customers have been receiving the Energy Bill Support Scheme payment automatically into their bank account while other customers, such as those on pre-pay meters, have been receiving a voucher in the post.

According to the Post Office, over 250,000 vouchers have been redeemed in Northern Ireland.

That number represents more than half of the vouchers that were to be distributed.

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