Households told to act now for £140 discount on winter energy bills – how to claim it

Households told to act now for £140 discount on winter energy bills – how to claim it

 

Tens of thousands of households are unaware they qualify for a £140 discount on their winter energy bills – and the clock is ticking to claim it.

The Warm Home Discount is an annual scheme offered to more than a million families who may struggle to pay their gas and electricity bills over the colder months.

It’s a one-off £140 discount – and is available to those on certain state benefits and others who may be classed as vulnerable, such as pensioners.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which runs the scheme, says 1million retired people have already been enrolled because they claim pensions credit.

It said the money will be taken off their bills by March 2021, with most pensioners receiving their discounts between now and January.

A further 220,000 pensioners who meet the eligibility criteria but do not automatically qualify are now being contacted ahead of winter.

However, with 1.5million pensioners on pensions credit – it could mean many people still lose out.

The scheme is also not only open to pensioners. Anyone classed as vulnerable or on a low income can apply.

You’ll have to be quick but if your claim is a success, it could make a significant difference over winter.

Here’s what you need to know.

The Warm Home Discount is a support scheme aimed at households who may struggle to pay their energy bills.

The scheme was introduced by Government on April 1, 2011 and will run until March 2022.

It’s a one-off £140 discount on your energy bill over winter – but instead of being paid directly to you, it’s automatically deducted from your bill over the winter months (between September and March).

You may also receive it as an energy rebate – all payments for last winter were paid by 31 March 2020. It’s usually paid by spring the following year, ie April 2021 for this coming winter.

It’s important to note that this discount won’t affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.

Anyone that applied last year will have received their payment by March this year. For this winter, applications have now opened with payments to be made as rebates or refunds by April 2021.

You may qualify for the discount if you:

Core Group

If you’re in the Core group you’ll have already received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) starting your eligibility.

It’ll tell you whether you’ll need to provide further information to the Warm Home Discount Scheme helpline or will confirm that you’ve been successfully matched and can receive the discount without needing to take any further action.

You’re in the Core Group if on July 5, 2020:

If you’re in this group, you should receive a letter from the DWP confirming it. The letter will tell you to call a helpline by February 26, 2021 to confirm your details. If you don’t get a letter, you can contact the Warm Home Discount helpline, here.

Broader Group

If you don’t qualify for the Core group you may qualify for the Broader group. This applies if you’re the account holder (or their partner) and you or another member in your home meets the set criteria (this may vary by provider).

This usually covers you if your energy supplier is on the scheme and you are in receipt of one of the following means-tested eligible benefits: Income Support, Income based Jobseekers’ Allowance, Income related Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit.

It’s worth noting that may providers will have a very limited first-come, first-served window for Broader group applicants – so the sooner you apply, the better.

For this winter, you can start applying now. See more on this below.

How you apply for the Warm Home Discount Scheme depends on how you qualify for the discount. If you do not receive a letter from the DWP by the 7 December (2020), you may not qualify as a Core customer.

Instead, you can apply for the Broader group discount through your provider directly (see how below).

Unlike the Winter Fuel Payment, you will need to apply for the scheme each year in order to be considered for a payment.

It will be shown on your electricity bill as a Warm Home Discount of £133.33. With VAT this will mean an overall £140 towards your electricity costs. This will happen by 31 March 2021.

If you think you qualify but haven’s heard from anyone about it, you can call the DWP’s Warm Home Discount helpline on 0800 731 0214 from 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

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You can still qualify for the discount if you use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter.

Your electricity supplier can tell you how you’ll get the discount if you’re eligible, for example a voucher you can use to top up your meter.

For the most competitive deals on your energy usage, experts say it’s best to compare suppliers every six months to ensure you’re on the lowest tariff for your household.

However, while this has never been so important, if you do qualify for the Warm Home Discount, make sure your new supplier is offering it first – or that the new tariff is at least £140 cheaper than it would be with your newer supplier.

To find out the best deal for your household, see our guide on how to switch your energy supplier.

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