MILLIONS of cash-tight households are getting extra help this winter to pay for energy bills.
The scheme is where eligible households can get £150 off their electricity bill each winter – but you’ll have to wait until the colder months to get the money off.
Households in England and Wales don’t need to apply to get the cash and they’ll automatically qualify if they are receiving certain benefits.
In Scotland, some customers will need to apply for cash.
Energy suppliers will automatically dish out the payment, worth £150 this year, as long as you were receiving certain benefits on or before Sunday, August 21.
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The list of benefits include:
- Income support
- Income based jobseeker’s allowance
- Income related employment and support allowance
- Housing benefit
- Universal credit
- Child tax credit
- Working tax credits
- Pension credit guaranteed
- Pension credit savings credit
If you aren’t claiming any of the above benefits on August 21 you won’t be eligible for the payment.
But thousands of pensioners could backdate successful claims for pension credit and still qualify for the Warm Home Discount now.
Pension credit rules all allow first-time claimants to backdate their benefit entitlement by three months.
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So you’ll need to launch your claim by Friday, November 18 and then successfully get it backdated to cover the August 21 Warm Home Discount qualifying date.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), who’s overseeing the scheme, should be sending you a letter from this month to confirm if you’ll get the payment later on in the year.
Payments for the £150 Warm Home Discount scheme will likely begin in December.
It’s up to individual energy companies to decide when they will give their customers the discount.
But do note that although most won’t need to do anything to get the money, energy regulator Ofgem says some people may be asked to contact a Government helpline to confirm their eligibility.
The money won’t be paid to you directly – it’ll be added as credit to your electricity account. This usually happens between October and April.
According to the gov.uk website these are the energy suppliers signed up for the scheme:
- Affect Energy – see Octopus Energy
- Atlantic – see SSE
- British Gas
- British Gas Evolve (formerly British Gas X) – see British Gas
- Bulb Energy
- Co-op Energy – see Octopus Energy
- E (Gas and Electricity)
- E.ON Next
- GEUK (Green Energy UK)
- Good Energy
- London Power
- M&S Energy
- Nabuh Energy
- Octopus Energy
- Outfox the Market
- Rebel Energy
- Sainsbury’s Energy
- Scottish Gas – see British Gas
- Scottish Hydro – see SSE
- Shell Energy Retail
- So Energy
- Southern Electric – see SSE
- Swalec – see SSE
- Utility Warehouse
Please visit the Government website for more information.
How do I secure the discount in Scotland?
The Scottish Government has refused to renew their Warm Home Discount scheme in-line with England and Wales’ new application-free scheme.
Households in Scotland will have to follow the rules set out in the legacy scheme.
This means they’ll likely still be a “core group” that’ll receive an automatic payment and a “broader group” who’ll have to apply for the scheme with their energy provider.
You’ll need to check with your energy supplier directly to see the eligibility requirement and details on how to apply.
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Try not to panic if you’re not eligible for the Warm Home Discount – there are a lot of funds going at the moment for that very reason
Firstly, though, talk to your energy supplier – if you’re falling behind with payments there’s a lot they can do to help.
They might offer support such as a payment plan review, repayment plans or payment breaks.
Consider a hardship fund – your supplier may have access to charitable trusts and funds.
Contact them and ask to see what is available, though the application process is very in-depth.
You could earn up to £1,500 from the British Gas fund, for instance.
There’s also the cold weather payment, which starts from November 1 onwards and continues through the winter months.
Temperatures drop dramatically from November to February, so it should help people heat their homes more comfortably.
You get £25 for each seven-day period where the weather is below zero Celsius on average during this time frame.
You can check if your area has had a cold weather payment by popping your postcode into the government’s tool now.
You can check if you’re eligible here first.
Winter Fuel Payment – This is available to those who:
- were born on or before 25 September 1956
- lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 19 to 25 September 2022 in what is known as the “qualifying week”
Most payments are made automatically in November or December. You should be paid by 13 January 2023, so keep an eye on your bank account.
Universal Credit bonus – Millions of claimants could get a free £10 bonus to help them over the festive period.
While it isn’t the biggest amount, still help after the energy price cap hike was announced.
It will be paid automatically.
Energy bill discount – Millions of households started receiving a £400 energy bill discount from October 1.
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The payment will be dished out by your energy supplier and will be split across six discounts between October and March next year.
Households will receive a £66 energy bill discount in October and November and a discount worth £67 in December, January, February and March.