By Rebecca Black (PA)
It is hoped energy support payments will be made in Northern Ireland in November, the region’s Economy Minister has said.
The Energy Support Scheme will see a £400 energy bill discount from government administered by the energy companies.
An energy price cap for homes has also been announced for Northern Ireland.
Gordon Lyons said good progress has been made in the last few days over the Energy Support Scheme payments.
“The energy suppliers are coming to a legal agreement and a mechanism to allow that money to be paid,” he said.
“I had previously said that that money would be delivered in November/December time, and that will still be the case. We’re still hoping that that will be November time.
“We will still get it in one payment, whereas in the rest of the United Kingdom that is going to be over a period of six months. We will get all of our money in Northern Ireland before the rest of the UK.
“So we’re getting that money, using our influence to make sure that comes as quickly as possible to those who need it.”
Meanwhile, households which use oil-powered heating are to be offered £100 to contend with rising costs.
Mr Lyons said that is not enough, adding that he has been speaking to officials and ministers about that.
“Over 65% of people in Northern Ireland have home heating oil, I don’t want them to be left out, and that’s why I have been engaging with government to try to tell them why it’s so important that that £100 is increased. It is not going to be enough for those who are struggling this winter,” he said.
In terms of the mini-budget earlier this week, Mr Lyons said he was disappointed that government did not announce a VAT cut for hospitality.
“That would have made a real difference for tourism more generally and that hospitality sector in particular, and it is disappointing that that hasn’t happened,” he said.