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Almost 14,000 electricity customers didn't receive energy credits

Nearly 14,000 electricity account holders did not receive the first tranche of €200 credits issued by the Government, meaning over €2.4 million was given back to Exchequer coffers.

Because it was such a broad-based payment intended for all households, it meant that certain cohorts were not “able to access the payment”, including a cohort of 1,000 Traveller households in certain Local Authority accommodations.

A new report from the Department of the Environment on the impact of the scheme has said that over 99% of eligible accounts received the money off their electricity bills which was introduced in the face of soaring costs for households.

The report said that the first payment in March 2022 “coincided with a sudden decrease of almost 95,000 customers in arrears”, and comes as it is widely expected further help will be given to households across the country with their energy bills in the upcoming Budget which is just 10 days away.

Throughout April, May and June last year, domestic electricity customers were given an emergency payment of €176.22, excluding VAT. Such was the sustained and continued rise in bills, the Government introduced three further tranches of the payment, which ran into this year.

While energy prices were already rising sharply before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that crisis prompted “unprecedented energy price rises”, the Department of Environment said. The report said that €379.3m was calculated by the Government as needed from Exchequer funding for the scheme.

In terms of unallocated credits, it said there were 13,752 eligible domestic electricity accounts that did not have the credit applied “due to the relevant supplier allocated with the credit, being unable to identify an account holder for the relevant Meter Point Registration Number (MPRN)”.

“Suppliers were required to make every attempt to identify the account holder in such scenarios,” it said.

Because it was applied to every account with this MPRN, this meant particular groups weren’t able to access the payment.

The report said: “A particular cohort, identified, included approximately 1,000 Traveller households in certain Local Authority accommodations where the MPRN is registered to the Local Authority and supplies multiple households.

“Government subsequently approved the introduction of complimentary measures to ensure that these households received backdated payments due under the original Scheme.” 

The department added that reports from the energy regulator suggested that the credit “helped protect customers against the worst impacts of the sharp increases in tariffs” and helped those with debts of less than €200 from “becoming further entrenched over the period”.

However, charities and NGOs have urged the Government in the upcoming Budget to cease these universal payments and provide more targeted supports to help families struggling with rising costs.