Alternative fuel users have received significant support this winter: first, by direct subsidy of their electricity bills per unit; secondly, through £400 of additional payments across the winter; and thirdly, by £200 paid automatically, for the vast majority, by their electricity supplier, which began on 6 February and finished, I am pleased to say, today. A small minority will need to apply and that portal will open soon.
Many people in Meon Valley use heating oil for their heating, and many have contacted me concerned that they have not received Government support yet. Some are having to wait because they are having to apply by phone. Can my right hon. Friend confirm that support is being rolled out and, crucially, that it will be received by those who are eligible in time for it to be of use this winter?
I pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s efforts to highlight the issue throughout the winter to make sure that the funding gets to the people who need it, when they need it. It has been challenging to make sure that every group across the country—domestic and non-domestic—gets it. I am pleased that the vast majority of people who are on alternative fuels have received that payment or credit this month, and that the portal will open imminently. We will follow the process for those who do not have an electricity supply for the £400 from the EBS scheme, which we are getting out as quickly as we can.
Under the scheme to which the Minister refers, the Government have rightly provided £600 to customers in Northern Ireland, where there is a high incidence of off-grid energy users. That statistic is even higher in my constituency of Na h-Eileanan an Iar, which, by dint of being islands, are more geographically distinct. Can we have a consistency of approach from the UK Government? Rather than just paying £400 and asking people to apply for another £200—knowing, as we all do, that some will fall through the gaps—we need a consistency of approach, given the statistics and geography in support of that, which pays my constituents £600 as well.
The hon. Gentleman has used every corridor and voting Lobby opportunity to lobby me throughout the winter on this issue. I am pleased to say that his constituents will have received, through their electricity supplier, the £200 in addition to the £400. The small minority who do not have an electricity supply will be able to apply on the portal very soon. The net effect will be the same as we have seen in Northern Ireland—I think his constituents are in the same position—where people have each received £600 of direct subsidy with the direct subsidy of per unit energy use to boot.