The Post Office confirms that all 500,000 energy vouchers, issued on behalf of the Government to households in Northern Ireland, have now been dispatched.
This means the £600 voucher rollout – which started just over three weeks ago – has now been completed well ahead of schedule. The last tranche of vouchers has been dispatched and are expected to arrive by the weekend.
This figure comes as the Post Office also confirmed that 80% (400,000) of energy vouchers, have been redeemed.
The success of the scheme highlights the important role post offices play within their local communities.
Postmasters across Northern Ireland have been working hard to help people to redeem their vouchers and deposit their cash quickly and efficiently in branches.
The Post Office has worked with electricity suppliers in organising the mail-out of the vouchers which took place in tranches. The original timescale was to have all 500,000 vouchers dispatched by the end of February.
The Post Office is now urging anyone who has not yet redeemed their voucher to do so and to ensure they bring the correct forms of identification with them.
The vouchers can only be redeemed at a Post Office and are issued to all households where energy bills are not paid via direct debit. Energy suppliers are continuing to work hard to ensure all customers are able to redeem their vouchers, including issuing replacements if needed, for example to customers who may have moved house around the qualifying date for the scheme.
Nick Read, Post Office Chief Executive, said: “The success of this rollout demonstrates the significant infrastructure that the Post Office has in place to handle an initiative of this stature alongside the crucial role post offices play within the heart of Northern Ireland’s local communities.
“None of this would have been possible without the commitment from our postmasters and their teams who have been working extremely hard to make sure people redeem their vouchers quickly; and easily deposit their cash straight away while in branches. We are pleased with the incredible progress of the voucher rollout with 80% of the total vouchers having already been redeemed within just three weeks of starting the mail-outs.
“We fully recognise how important being able to redeem this £600 support quickly and securely has been for so many people. We’re grateful to the hundreds of thousands of people who have come into our branches with the required documents to help speed things up for Postmasters. And we also want to thank the Police Service of Northern Ireland for their on-going support during this time.”
Energy Minister Graham Stuart said:“I’m delighted with the roll out of our £600 support package for families in Northern Ireland. All vouchers have now been issued, with most already redeemed, while every Direct Debit customer has now received their payment directly into their bank account. It has gone more quickly and smoothly than we could have imagined and is making a real difference to people struggling with their bills.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the Post Office and all the energy suppliers for partnering with us in this vital delivery of Government help. The police, voluntary groups and Members of Parliament have all supported us as well. For those that haven’t yet redeemed their voucher I urge them to get down to their local Post Office branch and get the money into their bank account as soon as possible.”
The Post Office’s role is to help support customers to redeem their vouchers.
All those who receive a voucher are urged to follow the three Ps to redeem their voucher at the Post Office.
For customers who pay for their energy using direct debit the £600 will automatically be placed into their bank account. They will not receive a voucher.
Customers who pay by direct debit may receive communication from their supplier to confirm when payment has been made. This is a matter for energy firms and their customers rather than the Post Office.
The voucher is made up of a £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme payment and an additional £200 Alternative Fuel Payment. 500,000 households in Northern Ireland are eligible for the voucher and it is expected post offices will be busier than usual. Of the 500 post offices in Northern Ireland, the vast majority are open on Saturdays and around 150 are open on Sundays. The expiry date for the voucher is 31 March 2023.
Further information can be found at postoffice.co.uk/costofliving
People can find their nearest Post Office by putting their postcode into postoffice.co.uk/branch-finder.