Northern Ireland news

Derry and Strabane council to provide £100 emergency heating payments

Derry City and Strabane District Council is to provide emergency £100 heating payments. Picture by Peter Byrne/PA Wire.
Seamus McKinney

DERRY and Strabane council is to provide emergency £100 payments to households struggling to pay heating costs in the cost of living crisis.

Councillors have backed a plan to implement a hardship fund across the council area, offering one-off heating cost payments. A council spokeswoman said the authority would also write to all energy companies asking for financial donations to charities to assist with the cost of living crisis. The programme will operate on a first-come basis.

The new fuel support programme will operate through a referral system with each district electoral area (DEA) receiving an allocated amount based on existing grand aid templates.

The spokeswoman said: “Referrals for this discretionary emergency fuel support can be made by any local support organisation in the DEAs or a local school, or a church or charities or an individual can make a self-referral.”

The referrals will be made to three advice centres – Advice NW, Dove House or Resource Centre (Carnhill) which will check eligibility for the programme.

“If the household meets the criteria, it is sent by the advice service provider (advice centre) to council’s fuel payment partner for processing. The fuel payment partner makes the payment of up to £100 to the energy supplier on behalf of the household or provides a credit voucher for top up for the fuel type to the household,” she said.

Eligibility for the scheme includes: a member of the household is entitled to free school meals; the household is in energy debt; there is a vulnerable person in the household; a member of the household has recently become unemployed; a member of the household is on a zero-hours contract or the gross annual income for the household is less than £40,000.

The delivery of the emergency fuel support programme is expected to start from the end of October, following the appointment of a “fuel payment partner”.