'Farmers feel discriminated against in voucher scheme payments' says Northern Ireland MLA

An MLA has said farmers are being “discriminated against” whilst trying to access the revised energy support scheme.
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Newry and Armagh DUP assemblyman, William Irwin MLA, has been approached by local farmers who have been told they cannot use their farm business bank account when trying to access the scheme.

Mr Irwin said his office has been assisting with the online application process but warned the system “must be changed” as he knows many farmers operate only with a single business account for all their transactions.

Mr Irwin commented: “This is discrimination to our farming community, especially as the other main scheme either automatically delivered a payment to a consumers bank account or produced a simple voucher for cashing in at the post office.

William Irwin MLA says 'farmers feel discriminated against in voucher scheme payments'.William Irwin MLA says 'farmers feel discriminated against in voucher scheme payments'.
William Irwin MLA says 'farmers feel discriminated against in voucher scheme payments'.

“Why is our farming community being made to jump through so many hoops to get this same energy support payment?” he asked.

“The new online system for delivering the support to people with different supply configurations should be more straightforward and I know that a lot of farmers have only a business account so to be informed they cannot have the money paid in to this account is concerning and there must be a change to permit the payments to proceed. Why can a simple voucher not be considered for our farmers? Why the discrimination?”

Mr Irwin continued: “It is vital that the Treasury and the energy companies address this issue and ensure that all our farming families are able to access this important financial support without any unnecessary hurdles.”