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.

Lack of clarity over £400 energy discount without Stormont Executive – Murphy

Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill and party colleague Conor Murphy in Stormont on Thursday (Brian Lawless/PA)
Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill and party colleague Conor Murphy in Stormont on Thursday (Brian Lawless/PA)

Concerns have been raised about what the lack of a power-sharing Executive in Northern Ireland means for the £400 discount on energy bills announced by the Treasury.

The discount, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of a range of measures to tackle the spiralling cost of living, is intended to be UK-wide.

But the Sinn Fein Stormont Finance Minister on Thursday said that the lack of an Executive in Northern Ireland will pose challenges for introducing the discount for households in the region.

Conor Murphy said the Treasury is exploring how equivalent support can be provided to people in Northern Ireland despite the lack of a devolved administration.

In a statement, he said he had spoken to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke on Thursday.

“I have committed to working with him to ensure the Energy Bills Support Scheme will deliver equivalent support to people here given the absence of an Executive.

“Our citizens need support now.”

Edwin Poots announces ministerial team
DUP MLA Jonathan Buckley defended his party’s decision not to enter the Executive (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sinn Fein, backed by other parties in Northern Ireland, has urged the DUP to end its refusal to return to powersharing until issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol are resolved.

Mr Murphy welcomed the cost-of-living package announced by the Chancellor.

However, he also said that it does not go far enough to meet the needs of struggling households.

“I am glad the British Government has at long last intervened to provide support to citizens.

“For some time I have been calling on the Chancellor to impose a windfall tax to ensure that the most vulnerable in society are supported through this cost-of-living crisis.

“It is welcome news that support will be directly provided to many low-income households on benefits, pensioners and individuals receiving disability benefits.

“However, it is disappointing that the Chancellor has offered no assistance for businesses which are also facing increased costs including extra fuel and energy costs coupled with additional National Insurance contributions.

“At a time when households and businesses are facing spiralling fuel and energy costs, today’s statement fails to reduce VAT on energy bills – this would have helped many others in society.”

Mr Murphy said that politicians in Northern Ireland are now unable to spend over £430 million due to the absence of powersharing.

“The additional £14 million funding we will receive from the Household Support Fund cannot be allocated in the absence of an Executive.

“This now means there is a total of £435 million which cannot be allocated to help families, workers and businesses with the cost of living and to support public services, particularly our health service.”

DUP MLA Jonathan Buckley acknowledged to BBC Radio Ulster that there was no indication yet of how the £400 discount on energy bills will be spent in Northern Ireland.

But he also defended his party’s position: “Equally, the Treasury is not sure how it can work in relation to the ties with the protocol.

“These issues have to be addressed. There is no reason why it cannot be addressed if there is collective will. The Government understands our concerns in relation to the protocol, as do our voters.

“We want to get down to business, we want to see devolved government operational but it must be on a sustainable, long-term footing.

“A sticking plaster will not suffice in relation to this issue.”