SDLP Communities Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has called on Minister Hargey to extend the £200 energy payment to all bill-payers similar to the provision made by the Irish Government.
Following an Assembly statement on the Energy Support Payment Scheme earlier this week, Minister Hargey rebutted comments from Mr Durkan that the scheme was "underwhelming" despite her party leader, Mary Lou McDonald deeming the more generous provision in the south as the "bare minimum".
Foyle MLA Mr Durkan said:
“The Irish Government are providing €200 energy credit to all bill payers- the total cost of the measures agreed is €505m, with over two million households due to be paid the €200 energy credit in April. There is also to be a one-off payment of an extra €125 for people in receipt of fuel allowance.
“Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald deemed this the 'bare minimum' despite the package proving much more generous than the £55m Energy Support Scheme announced by her party colleague, Minister Hargey in the North.
“When I challenged the Minister on what support would be provided to households not in receipt of benefits, she argued that her scheme was not 'underwhelming.' It's clear the scheme here is lacking and the division in views within the Minister's own party is testament to that fact. More must be done to ensure every struggling household across the North is supported throughout this crisis.
“The £150m funding that was received via Barnett consequential from Westminster to tackle the energy crisis could be used to provide a £200 payment to every household. While the DUP’s selfish decision to collapse the Executive has hampered our attempts to support people, Minister Hargey still has the power to intervene to help families and she must explore every option available to her to do so.”