Martin Lewis urges consumers to check if they're due a warm home discount worth GBP140What to watch next Click to expand Replay Video
Many households will this winter be looking for all the help they can with household bills, including the Warm Home Discount Scheme. This knocks GBP140 off your electricity bill if you are on a low income or in receipt of specific benefits, and is set to be increased to GBP150 from 2022. The scheme is handled by energy suppliers, so what happens if yours is among those that have gone out of business this year?
READ MORE: Universal Credit claimants warned of GBP343 a month drop after benefit reassessments More than two million energy customers have been displaced from failed suppliers and among them are consumers who would be eligible for the Warm Home Discount Scheme. Customers still have time to apply, according to comparison site Uswitch.com.
Elderly people on low incomes who receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit - known as the core group - automatically receive the discount. Others in what's called the broader group have to apply to their energy supplier in order to access the money. But with 15 suppliers having exited the market in 2021, some eligible households may be at risk of missing out on the discount if they forget to re-apply with their new supplier.
READ MORE: DWP offering GBP800 emergency cash to Universal Credit claimants hit by cut Uswitch research shows there is still time to apply, as all the major providers who have taken on displaced customers this year are still open to applications. These suppliers are:
- British Gas
- British Gas Evolve
- EDF Energy
- E.ON Next
- Octopus Energy
- Shell Energy
New British Gas customers who were on their former supplier's Warm Home Discount Scheme as part of the broader group will be automatically added to British Gas's own list of those who benefit from the scheme.
However, displaced customers with other suppliers will need to re-apply once they receive their new customer number. Many other suppliers that operated the scheme last year are also still open to applications, including Ovo Energy, SSE and Scottish Power. Utilita remains the only supplier that has already closed applications, while So Energy has yet to open theirs.
However, So Energy says its applications will open this month. READ MORE: National Living Wage rise - when does it start and 3 things to do right now Previous Uswitch research found there is a widespread lack of knowledge about the scheme, leading many to miss out.
Nearly a third of people (32 per cent) who could be eligible for the discount did not know the scheme existed. Last year, the Government pledged to consult on providing automatic rebates to people in fuel poverty, and Uswitch called on ministers to implement this process as soon as possible. In the meantime, anyone who believes they are eligible should apply as soon as they can, as the scheme is operated on a first come, first served basis.
There is a fixed pot of money to be distributed, which this year has risen with inflation from GBP351 million to GBP357 million. Qualifying applicants will have their rebates paid by March 31, 2022. Justina Miltienyte, energy policy expert at Uswitch.com, said: "Eligible consumers are in danger of falling through the cracks if their supplier goes bust and they are moved to another provider.
"The GBP140 may not be enough to balance out rising energy prices, but it will still be a lifeline to many people on low incomes this year. "Thankfully, Warm Home Discount applications are still open with almost all the suppliers which were involved last year. This includes all the major providers who have taken on customers from those that have exited the market.
"If you believe you are eligible for the discount, we recommend that you apply for it through your supplier as soon as possible. Even if you applied with an energy company that has since gone bust and moved to a new provider, we recommend that you re-apply with the new supplier so you do not miss out."
Who can get the discount?
The scheme is available to you if you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (known as the core group) or are on a low income and meet your energy supplier's criteria for the scheme (known as the broader group). The broader group typically means you will get this discount if you are:
- in receipt of the Savings Credit element of Pension Credit
- in receipt of one of the following means-tested eligible benefits: Universal Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, or income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
- are a customer with a gross annual household income of less than GBP16,190 and the account holder is living with mental or physical disability or illness, or there is vulnerability within the home (children living in the house aged 5 or under) or of pensionable age.
- are a customer with a gross annual household income of less than GBP16,190 and spend 10 per cent or more of household income on energy bills to heat the property.
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