Mr Lyons said,
“This announcement by the Government is a step forward for those who pay their electric bills via direct debit however for those who use pre-paid top-up metres, many questions remain as to how this scheme will be delivered. Whilst the Government has stated the payments will start in January, there is no clarity as to how this will happen for keypad customers.
The most obvious questions relate to keypad users and when they will receive their payment and what will the process be? I also understand some of the energy companies were not ready to make the announcement on Monday morning.
There was a scheme sitting ready for the Government to use which was imperfect, but the energy companies were ready to make the payments last month to everyone.
The Secretary of State’s suggestion that this could have been done via the Northern Ireland Executive is wrong and when in Ministerial office my officials were clear that they did not have the resource, capacity, or the skills to make the payments. For the Executive to have steamrollered ahead with a scheme would have been in direct contravention the first recommendation of the RHI Report.
Rather than trying to weaponise the energy payments against the DUP, the Government would have been well advised not changing the goalposts at the last minute. In which case, people would have the £600 in their accounts by now.”