Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Thousands more households in Northern Ireland on course to benefit from £600 government help with energy bills [February 2023]

The press release issued by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero on 27 February 2023.

UK government launches new online portal so thousands of additional NI households can receive £600 payments.

  • New online portal means Northern Ireland households without a direct relationship to a domestic electricity supplier can apply for government support
  • ministers urge over 28,000 households eligible for the £600 lump sum to apply as soon as possible
  • a telephone helpline is available to support without access to the internet to apply for the payment

The UK government’s £600 help with energy bills is on course to reach thousands more households across Northern Ireland from today, as new routes for funding open to the public.

Over 28,000 households who do not have a direct relationship to a domestic electricity supplier – such as park home residents, people living in care homes and households who get their energy through a commercial contract – will be able to apply for support under the ‘alternative funding’ route of the government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS AF).

This follows the main roll-out of £600 energy support payments, which reached the majority of households across Northern Ireland in January and February. The delivery of support has been designed to cater specifically for the NI market, with households receiving payments as one lump sum.

A new online government portal launching today will allow thousands more households in Northern Ireland to benefit from the government help, while a dedicated customer helpline is also available to assist eligible customers who do not have online access. This follows a successful pilot phase in specific post code areas to refine the application process, making sure the system can deliver support to households in a robust, secure and efficient manner.

Ministers are today urging all eligible households to apply as soon as possible for their support, whilst also warning households to stay alert to potential scams and report them to relevant authorities where they are suspected. The government will never provide any links to the application portal, or directly ask individuals to apply for the £600 support. Anyone who requires additional help when applying for support may wish to seek assistance from a family member or trusted friend.

Minister at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, Amanda Solloway, said:

Hundreds of thousands of households across Northern Ireland have already felt the benefit of our help with their energy bills, but this online portal is the final piece of the puzzle to make sure the final few who don’t have a direct relationship with an electricity supplier can apply for their £600 of support.

It’s simple and easy to do and I want every household entitled to this to get your application in as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the sooner help can get to you.

The exact date that an eligible household will receive support will depend on when an application is made, with the application process administered in Northern Ireland by the government’s contracted delivery partner.

Payments will be delivered directly into people’s bank accounts by the government’s finance delivery partner, UKSBS. If you have previously attempted to open a standard current account but not been able to do so, you may be eligible to open a basic bank account for free. The 9 largest personal current account (PCA) providers in the UK are legally required to offer a basic bank account option.

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris said:

Welcome news for those Northern Ireland households without a direct relationship to a domestic energy supplier, with people able to apply for £600 support from today.

I urge all those eligible to apply online or to get in touch through the telephone helpline as soon as possible.

The alternative funding route is in place to make sure the same level of support reaches households without a direct relationship to an electricity supplier. Customers who have received support automatically via their electricity supplier through the main Energy Bill Support Scheme Northern Ireland (EBSS NI) are not eligible for support under the alternative funding aspect of the scheme, and do not need to apply.

These schemes are the latest part of a range of targeted measures to help households across the country with the cost of living. In addition to the support provided through EBSS and Alternative Fuel Payments NI, the UK government’s Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) is expected to save the average UK family £900 over this winter.

Further support in direct payments is also being provided to vulnerable households this year, including cost of living payments for pensioners, people receiving disability-related allowances and those on means-tested benefits. The Household Support Fund provides additional assistance for those most in need and £26 billion worth of targeted support will help protect the most vulnerable over the next financial year.

Geoff Nuttall, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) said:

NICVA is pleased that people with no direct route to receiving help through an energy supplier will now get help through this new BEIS scheme. This intervention will provide some much-needed support at a difficult time.

Our members have told us the difficulties they and the people they support are facing every day and how hard the sector is working to help people.

The rising cost of living is affecting everyone, but we know it impacts the most vulnerable in our society even more. Especially if they’re not connected to the networks through which others have already received support.

We welcome this new scheme to ensure much needed help reaches them too.