Prime Minister Liz Truss has confirmed that households in Northern Ireland will receive a £400 discount on energy bills in November, but has not confirmed an exact date for the payments.
It was part of an interview the Prime Minister held with BBC NI’s Evening Extra programme, as Ms Truss confirmed that the payments would be made retroactive to October, along with the roll-out of other payments in the UK.
Ms Truss told BBC NI that her government had taken “decisive steps” by “first and foremost ensuring that people pay no more than £2,500 on a typical utility bill this winter and next winter.”
“The scheme that applies in Britain will also apply in Northern Ireland,” she added.
“We will give Northern Ireland the same support as people in Britain,” she added.
“It will be implemented retroactively from October 1. It is my understanding that it will be in November. I will get more details on that. What I can assure people is that the regulation that applies in Britain also applies in Northern Ireland will apply. So people have reassurance they are not going to struggle with those very high energy bills.”
Northern Ireland currently has no government in Stormont as a result of the DUP’s refusal to appoint a chairman or form an executive in protest at protocol and controls on goods crossing the Irish Sea.
Ms Truss was also asked about the current standoff in Stormont and whether she would resume negotiations with the EU. The prime minister has not indicated when or if further negotiations will take place.
“Of course I want to see the Assembly and the Executive reformed as soon as possible and I encourage all parties to continue doing that,” she added.
“I am very clear, I want all parties to be part of the Assembly and the Executive. Including the DUP. I have made it clear to everyone.
“We have always been clear that we want to resolve the issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol, ideally with a negotiated settlement. We remain open to a negotiated settlement.
“My concern is to ensure that we restore the primacy of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. That we treat both communities in Northern Ireland fairly.
“It means ensuring that the people of Northern Ireland can enjoy the same tax benefits as the people of Great Britain. We introduced the Northern Ireland Protocol Act to solve those problems.
“What we cannot allow is for this situation to shift. I want to see the parties work together, I want to see that government back at work.”
Earlier, DUP’s Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said good progress has been made in recent days with payments from the Energy Support Scheme.
“The energy suppliers come to a legal agreement and a mechanism to make that money pay,” he said.
“I had previously said that that money would be delivered in November/December time, and it still will be. We are still hoping it will be November.
“We are still getting it in one go, while in the rest of the UK it will be over a six month period. We get all our money in Northern Ireland sooner than the rest of the UK.
“So we get that money and use our influence to make sure it gets to those who need it as quickly as possible.”
Meanwhile, households using oil heating are being offered £100 to meet rising costs.
Mr Lyons said that is not enough and added that he has spoken to officials and ministers about it.
“Over 65% of people in Northern Ireland have domestic heating oil, I don’t want them to be left out, so I’ve reached out to the government to tell them why it’s so important that that £100 be raised. It won’t be enough for those who have a hard time this winter,” he said.