More pensioners will be eligible to receive a £140 electricity rebate this winter as part of the Warm Home Discount scheme. But while many will receive the discount automatically, others may need to ask their supplier to get the reduction.
The Warm Home Discount requires the big suppliers, by law, to help vulnerable customers pay for energy. Previously the scheme applied to anyone over 75 who received the Guaranteed Credit element of Pension Credit, but only if they did not also receive the Savings Credit.
However, the Government has today announced that anyone who receives the guaranteed element - no matter their age - will now be eligible (see our Housing and Energy Grants guide to find free cash for your home). Those who receive Savings Credit only will remain ineligible.
It says an extra 200,000 pensioners will benefit from the move, bringing the total number who receive the subsidy to two million people twice as many as when the scheme launched in 2011.
The amount of money given as a discount under the scheme will also increase this winter, from £135 to £140.
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Minister Steve Webb says: "It is this coalition Government's mission to build a fairer society, and ensuring our poorest households get the support they need with their energy costs is a key part of that.
"As we approach winter, no one should have to go without heating because they can't afford the bills. That's why we have significantly extended the Warm Home Discount scheme and increased its value to give people peace of mind that they can keep their homes comfortable throughout the coldest months."
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Who's eligible for the Warm Home Discount?
You'll qualify for the Warm Home Discount if, on 12 July 2014, all the following applied:
- Your supplier was part of the Warm Home Discount scheme (see below for which firms are taking part).
- You or your partner's name was on your electricity bills.
- You get either the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or the Guarantee Credit plus Savings Credit element of Pension Credit. If you get just the Savings Credit element of Pension Credit, you won't be eligible.
Anyone not in receipt of Pension Credit but who feels they may be eligible under alternative criteria, because for example they have a low income, should contact their energy supplier. Criteria for this will vary by provider.
How do I get the Warm Home Discount?
Most people will receive the rebate automatically, usually between October and March. The rebate isn't paid to you, but you'll see it as a one-off discount on your electricity bill.
Anyone who doesn't receive the discount automatically but who receives Pension Credit will be sent a letter from the Government by 24 December explaining how to apply in time for the 30 January 2015 deadline.
If you don't receive a letter but believe you qualify, contact the Warm Home Discount scheme on 0345 603 9439 or by writing to the Warm Home Discount Team, Pink Zone, 1st Floor, Peel Park, Brunel Way, Blackpool FY4 5ES.
The Government admits that while up to 1.7 million pensioners will be eligible for the discount this winter, it estimates that only around 1.4 million will take it up.
What if I've got a prepayment meter?
Having a prepayment meter won't affect your ability to get the Warm Home Discount. If you are eligible you'll be given a voucher to top up you meter with.
Which suppliers are part of the scheme?
The following energy suppliers, including all of the big six providers, are participating in the Warm Home Discount scheme:
- British Gas
- Co-operative Energy
- EDF Energy
- Ebico (Equipower and Equigas)
- First Utility
- M&S Energy
- Sainsbury's Energy
- Scottish Gas
- Scottish Hydro
- Scottish Power
- Southern Electric
- Utility Warehouse
Does getting the Warm Home Discount affect other benefits?
Receipt of the £140 discount does not affect your Winter Fuel Allowance, Cold Weather Payments or any other benefits you or your household may receive.