SDLP Communities Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has called for an urgent intervention from Sinn Féin Minister Deirdre Hargey to get a grip on the inherent flaws within the £2 million Emergency Fuel Payment Scheme.
Mr Durkan said the application process is stripping people of their dignity.
The Foyle MLA commented:
“People have waited with bated breath for news of a fuel support scheme yet just days since the launch of the £2 million Emergency Fuel Payment Scheme it is clear that the application process is not fit for purpose.
“The convoluted criteria and online process is excluding many vulnerable people from this crucial support. The decision to limit the number of applicants to the scheme per day is of huge concern. The fact that the scheme reopens at 9am each morning has been to huge detriment for many, including parents or those carrying out the school run in the mornings or simply making their way to work. Considering the scheme has closed for applications by 9.20am on each day it since it has been opened, people are missing out from even submitting an application in the first place.
“I’ve been inundated with complaints from constituents who have been left frustrated by this unfair process. The barriers placed on those in need of help is inexcusable and Minister Hargey, rather than passing blame on this issue really needs to get a handle on the multiple flaws within this system.
“It is abhorrent that a provision intended to support families and individuals struggling to meet rising energy costs is being treated like a lottery. In doing so, people in desperate need are being stripped of their dignity. No-one should be forced to beg for assistance which they are entitled to.”