UK government starts energy bill support for Northern Ireland households

(Reuters) - Households across Northern Ireland will start getting a 600 pound ($733.86) UK government energy support announced last month from Monday, Britain's energy department said.

The UK government has announced packages to help households amid a cost-of-living crunch after British natural gas prices began to pick up sharply in the second half of 2021, and soared after Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year.

Customers paying energy bills using prepayment metres or quarterly standard credit will get vouchers, which can be redeemed at post office branches, with delivery continuing throughout this month and the next, the energy department said on Monday.

The delivery schedule of the support payment was announced after the UK government on Dec. 19 revealed the single 600-pound payment, comprising 400 pounds paid through the Energy Bills Support Scheme Northern Ireland and the rest as part of Alternative Fuel Payment scheme, a one-off payment to help with winter energy bills.

A statement from the energy department said customers who pay through the Direct Debit system will get the incentive directly into their bank account through their supplier from this month.

($1 = 0.8176 pounds)

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)