Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Taskforce set up in bid to deliver energy bill discount in Northern Ireland

(Gareth Fuller/PA)
(Gareth Fuller/PA)

A new joint taskforce has been set up after talks around delivering an equivalent to Great Britain’s £400 energy bill discount in Northern Ireland.

UK Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi met Stormont Economy Minister Gordon Lyons and Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey in Belfast last week to discuss extending the scheme to the region, a move which has been complicated by the lack of a functioning Stormont Assembly.

After the meeting on Wednesday, Ms Hargey and Mr Lyons said they were discussing the Treasury paying money to energy companies in Northern Ireland to reduce customer bills.

Nadhim Zahawi
Nadhim Zahawi (Liam McBurney/PA)

Ms Hargey said she hoped to be able to give certainty this week, but on Monday she expressed concern that a “workable solution” had not yet been agreed.

In a statement, the Chancellor said the taskforce will comprise officials from the UK and the Stormont Executive who will “be responsible for driving forward a solution over the coming weeks to ensure people of NI get support as soon as possible”.

There will be a regular schedule of meetings until the issue is resolved.

Mr Zahawi said: “We need to keep the momentum up to get equivalent energy support to people in Northern Ireland and that’s why today I’ve launched a joint taskforce to present practical delivery options back to ministers. No option is off the table.

“We’ve got our noses to the grindstone, we’re making progress, and we have a shared objective with minsters in Northern Ireland to get this off the ground as soon as possible.”

Ms Hargey said: “This needs to be done as a matter of urgency.

“We are approaching an autumn and winter which will be extremely difficult for workers and families as the price of heating and lighting homes continues to soar.

“Discussions are continuing to try to find a workaround to get the payment out into people’s pockets, but there is no doubt that the absence of a functioning Executive is making this more difficult.”

Deirdre Hargey
Deirdre Hargey (Liam McBurney/PA)

Ms Hargey urged the DUP to end its protest action against the Northern Ireland Protocol and nominate ministers to a new fully functioning Executive.

Mr Lyons said a commitment had been made in the House of Commons that the Chancellor would deliver the payments to homes in Northern Ireland, as in the rest of the UK.

“In Great Britain the payment will be delivered directly from Treasury to the energy companies,” he said.

“I am glad today the Utility Regulator was able to outline a proposal to similarly deliver the scheme directly via our six Northern Ireland energy suppliers. This is the fastest and most straightforward path to deliver the payment.

“A taskforce is being established to take this forward. Time is the key pressure point.

“The Treasury needs to use the tools at their disposal to ensure this money is in people’s pockets as quickly as possible.

“I was disappointed that more progress had not been made by Treasury officials ahead of today’s meeting but remain determined to hold Treasury to their commitments.”

Last month, the Westminster Government revealed details of the scheme in which households in Great Britain would get more than £60 off their energy bills each month throughout winter as part of its cost-of-living support.

The money, part of a package announced in May, will be delivered in six instalments to 29 million households.

Households will see £66 taken off their energy bills in October and November, and £67 a month between December and March, the Government said.