Energy support delay for off-grid and park homes is unforgivable

Susanna Reid grills Shapps over energy support in NI

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Ministers have pushed back the £400 that most households have started to receive until at least next month for households that do not have direct contracts with energy suppliers. But Silver Voices said failing to hand over the cash to some of the poorest pensioners during a prolonged cold snap is “unforgivable”.

Director Dennis Reed said: “In the height of the big freeze, this procrastination is unforgivable. 

“These are some of the poorest households in the UK and the Government has had many months to work out schemes to deliver these promised payments. 

“These Government officials need rockets put under their desk chairs. If people can’t afford to heat their homes on Christmas Day because of the incompetence of civil servants and their political masters, then I hope these uncaring individuals have nightmares of Scrooge themselves.”

Silver Voices said around 85,000 people live permanently in mobile homes parks in England and many of them are older and struggling to make ends meet as well as about half a million older people in sheltered housing.

It said there are estimated to be at least 25,000 homes that are off the grid so really on alternative fuel sources, such as heating oil or liquefied petroleum gas.

They are entitled to a £200 payment on top of the energy support cash to help with the high costs of alternative fuel supplies.

Around one per cent of homes cannot receive the £400 energy support in the same way as most households as they do not have a domestic electricity metre or a direct relationship with an energy supplier.

Everyone in Northern Ireland will receive both payments as so many homes are off grid and rely on heating oil.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said an announcement would be made “very soon” on how the £600 payment would be made in the area during a visit to Belfast.

He said: “We will be making an announcement very soon about how that is going to be delivered. But it will be delivered this winter. For many people it will be delivered faster than for others in Great Britain.

“We have been working on it, we want to get that support to people, we recognise it is important. 

Conservative MP Rebecca Harris said devising a scheme to cover park homes and those off the grid had been “complicated”.

She added: “The exact date that an eligible household will receive support will depend on when the application is made and when the payment can be processed by the relevant Local Authority.

“As there is no single register of eligible households, payment is a complicated matter. However the Government has worked through a number of alternative delivery options, and concluded that the best way to deliver the scheme is through Local Authorities who are best placed to process applications and carry out verification checks.”

Lib Dem Wera Hobhouse has raised concerns about the delays in payments to people off grid and in park homes.

She said they “need support with their energy bills now”.

The MP said ministers must “redouble their efforts to provide support as quickly as possible”.

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