Social Democratic and Labour Party Leader Colum Eastwood MP has expressed alarm at reports landlords are claiming energy support payment vouchers intended for their tenants.
Mr Eastwood was speaking after constituents contacted his office for help after their vouchers were taken.
He said the vouchers were intended to help people with their energy bills and should be going to those who need them most.
Foyle MP Colum Eastwood said:
“I am deeply alarmed after having people visit and contact my constituency office seeking assistance after their landlord claimed their £600 energy support payment voucher and told them they were the ones entitled to it. These vouchers were designed to help people struggling with the huge rise in electricity and heating costs, not to further line the pockets of landlords and I am shocked that this is taking place within our community.
“The guidance is clear – these vouchers are intended for those currently occupying the property and paying for their own energy bills. Even if the current account is in the name of the landlord this voucher is not intended for them and it is completely wrong of them to try and claim it from tenants in need. Those affected are understandably extremely concerned that this has taken place, with many waiting for and relying on this payment to get through the winter, particularly during the cold weather we have been experiencing.
“I have contacted the Post Office to identify what assistance they can give to tenants in this situation and to examine whether landlords can be prevented from wrongly claiming this money. There are people in our community who will need to this voucher to heat their homes and keep putting food on the table and it’s staggering anyone would seek to exploit this situation for their own gain.”