The UK Government has today (Friday, December 30) set out how around 500,000 households in Northern Ireland will receive support with their energy bills, with new vouchers starting to be issued from mid-January.

The single £600 payment consists of £400 through the Energy Bills Support Scheme Northern Ireland (EBSS NI), and the £200 Alternative Fuel Payment (AFP).

Energy and Climate Minister Graham Stuart confirmed that for customers on standard credit schemes without direct debits set up, and those on prepayment (keypad) meters, this will take the form of vouchers, with the most vulnerable customers getting priority access.

Standard Credit customers with no direct debit arrangement and prepayment keypad customers will receive the voucher from their supplier, which they can redeem at a Post Office, either by depositing it in a bank or credit union, or where needed, as cash.

Customers with a direct debit arrangement with their energy supplier will receive the payment directly to their bank account, and will not be provided with vouchers.

Vouchers will start to be issued from mid-January, with every eligible customer receiving them in time to feel the benefit this winter.

Energy and Climate Minister Graham Stuart said: “We are determined to ensure that whatever their circumstances, every customer in Northern Ireland gets the support they are entitled to.

“Those without direct debits set up, and those on prepayment meters, will from January start to get these important vouchers, which will provide vital help with their bills.

"Those already paying by direct debit will get the support straight into their bank accounts.

“I would urge those customers getting vouchers to look out for them, and to use them swiftly so they can benefit, and see the impact on their bills as soon as possible.”

While today's news should give peace of mind to customers in Northern Ireland, Mr. Stuart also urged them to beware of scams which Westminster is already aware are being attempted.

He warned customers that vouchers will come in the form of letters, will carry badges of the relevant electricity supplier and the UK Government, and will contain a barcode.

Customers will not be asked to go online, or to provide any details.

The easiest way people can redeem their voucher will be by paying the money directly into their bank account by taking their bank card to the Post Office, and requesting to deposit.

For those without a bank or credit union account, going to the Post Office and redeeming for cash will be an option – but that will be subject to the branch having the cash available.

In order to obtain the voucher, voucher holders will need to take the voucher, the letter from their supplier issued with their voucher, proof of address, and photo ID to the Post Office to redeem their voucher.

Proof of address needs to be dated before January 2, 2023 to be valid.

Keypad customers will need to bring their keypad app or top up card to the Post Office, in addition to the voucher, proof of address and photo ID.