Call For NIE To Make Emergency Winter Payment

“This has meant people running out of electricity due to financial hardship and already using their emergency electricity credit outside the period where NIE would normally permit electricity being supplied without interruption from Monday to Thursday between four pm and eight am. “I am very concerned that people who contacted me have had no electricity for a minimum period of twelve hours, due to using their emergency credit, and waiting to purchase electricity following their receipt of welfare benefits.” [caption id="attachment_18593" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="A number of families across Down have experienced problems in keeping the electricity supply on when they run out of credits on the pre-pay scheme."][/caption] “It is just unacceptable in today’s society for any person or families to be without electricity due to their financial circumstances, and I would strongly urge NIE to review their emergency credit to above the present rate to £10.” “This increase would certainly prevent people from being disconnected until receipt of benefit during the Monday to Thursday period. The payment of twenty five pounds by the Department of Social Development to assist in helping people with their heating costs is to be welcomed, but there is at present no emergency financial assistance for electricity costs.” “This therefore needs to be addressed as a very high priority through NIE making an emergency winter credit payment similar to DSD.” “Many people, particularly senior citizens have been faced with using their benefits and pensions to keep warm in recent weeks, and as a direct result having to purchase increased electricity credit.” “I am therefore calling on NIE to make an emergency credit payment of £25 to all people with electricity payment metre card systems and in receipt of benefit.” “I have made immediate written representations to NIE on this matter and will be raising it with Party Leader and MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie to discuss a special emergency payment should NIE not make this payment forthcoming.” However, the DHSS administers the Social Fund and it is possible to get emergency payments from the Fund on application if the qualifying criteria are met. But given the scale of the present problem, a larger scale action may well be required through the DSD to alleviate the situation. Attwood Pressing For Cold Weather Payments From Westminster Social Development Minister Alex Attwood has called on the Coalition Government to take urgent action to help all those who are struggling to keep warm as the winter weather worsens. In an urgent letter just before Christmas to Westminster’s Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, Minister Attwood called for the creation of a £200 Severe Weather Payment be issued to all those who qualify up to the age of 80, and £350 to those over 80. Minister Attwood added that the London Government, along with his Ministerial colleagues, needs to act vigorously to help those most in need right now. He said, “I am urging the Coalition Government to issue a Severe Weather Payment. I have frequently spoken of the growing levels of fuel poverty here in Northern Ireland and the current Arctic conditions simply exaggerate our particular difficulties. “This Severe Weather Payment, going to those in need, would help.” The Severe Weather Payment being proposed by Minister Attwood is separate to both the Winter Fuel Payment and the temperature-triggered Cold Weather Payments.]]>