Irwin concerned about energy payment 'mixed messages' as some farmers are told they are 'not eligible'
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The farmers say energy companies have informed them that they are not eligible for the £600 voucher scheme if their home electricity connection is fed via a farm business supply.
Newry and Armagh assemblyman, William Irwin, said the messaging was confusing as the government’s own website lists such circumstances amongst other scenarios, and states that a scheme will be released to cater for those customers.
He said it was important that the information was relayed clearly to anyone who is in doubt as to their payments.
Mr Irwin commented: “I have received a steady stream of contact from people, mainly from the farming community, who have the farm house fed directly from the farm supply.
“The government website information says that farmhouses will be receiving their energy support payment within a separate scheme of support, yet to be released.
“It is, therefore, confusing for people who make inquiries through their electricity suppliers, such as Power NI, to be told that they aren’t eligible for a payment as they then feel deeply aggrieved and disenfranchised.”
Mr Irwin continued: “It is vital that electricity suppliers are fully aware of the information available, and it is also vital that the separate scheme gets under way as soon as possible which will cater for farmers living in domestic farmhouses without a domestic electricity connection, residents of park homes, some care home residents, tenants in certain types of private and social rented homes, homes supplied by private wires, residents of caravans and houseboats on registered sites and households off the electricity grid.”
He concluded: “Whilst hundreds of thousands of pounds in vital financial support has already been received across the country, it is absolutely important that those who are in the more unique situations with regards to their method of supply are provided with the necessary support in the very near future.”