Minister promises to consider increase home heating oil support, as latest figures show prices remain around £1 per litre in Northern Ireland
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A previous government pledge to provide a £100 discount for those not connected to the gas network - a majority of households in Northern Ireland - was met with criticism from political parties here who say the payment does not match the potential subsidies on offer under the plan to limit unit prices on gas and electricity bills.
The commitment to review the £100 voucher scheme came during a debate in the House of Lords earlier this week, when energy minister Lord Callanan said the government will be "monitoring the price of heating oil" and other fuel sources in the coming months.
The Northern Ireland Consumer Council, meanwhile, has been keeping a close watch on home heating oil prices for some time.
In its latest weekly figures, the Consumer Council say the average cost of 900 litres of home heating oil in Northern Ireland has fallen since last week to £888.20.
While the prices have come down since last week's update, the latest figure is still one of the highest published over the past month.
In two areas - the Newry, Mourne and Down council area and the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon council area - home heating oil remains over £1 per litre on average even for a bulk, 900 litre delivery.
Smaller quantities, across Northern Ireland, cost over £1 a litre with the average price of a 500 litre fill coming in at £502.16 and £310.13 for 300 litres.
The £100 discount, at those prices, would pay for roughly 100 litres which - depending on usage - would not last the average household very long.
Ulster Unionist peer Lord Rogan welcomed the government commitment to consider releasing more money to help people in Northern Ireland pay for higher fuel costs.
Speaking in a House of Lords debate on the Energy Prices Bill earlier this week, Lord Rogan said that Northern Ireland found itself in a “peculiar” position in comparison with the rest of the United Kingdom with 68% of Northern Ireland households relying on home heating oil compared to just 3% in England.
He told Lord Callanan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: “I am well aware that there will be a review with new arrangements due to be in place by April. However, I fear these will be even less generous than those intended to carry the country through the winter. And as I have sought to make clear, in relation to Northern Ireland, they are not generous at all. This is causing great concern and worry for many.”
Lord Callanan said: “This is designed by reference to past increases in the cost of heating oil in the year to October 2022. We will be monitoring the price of heating oil and other alternative fuels closely in the months ahead to see whether further payments are required at a future point in time.”