Warm house discount scheme-do you qualify?
Are you concerned about affording your energy bills as the temperatures drop, worried you'll have to dial down the thermostat and live in freezing rooms because you can't afford to top up your prepayment meter or to keep your monthly bills in check? You aren't alone.
In this guide:
The warm home discount scheme
One of the measures of the government has introduced to offset poverty is the warm home discount (WHD). The scheme, introduced in 2011 and scheduled to run until 2021, gives eligible households, including pensioners and other vulnerable people, an annual rebate on their energy costs over the winter. It's delivered as a discount applied to your electricity bill sometime between September and March.
The rebate is applied to electricity bills although most homes are gas-heated, because not everyone will use gas for heating, or even have a gas supply. In fact, households in fuel poverty as disproportionately likely to use electricity for heat and to not be connected to the gas grid.
For the winter of 2018-2019, the discount has been benchmarked at £140. That won't entirely seal the fuel poverty gap (the difference between a household's average energy bill and what it would have to be for that household to no longer be fuel poor) in England-which averaged £326 in 2016, the last year for which data is available-but it can alleviate some concern for household about their energy costs.
The Warm Home Discount scheme assists two million households every year with their energy costs. For some eligible households, the discount will be applied automatically, but others will need to apply to receive it, so it's important to know if you qualify.
Who is eligible for the scheme?
The WHD scheme operates in England, Scotland, and Wales and can be obtained by eligible customers supplied by participating electricity suppliers, whether they're on credit or prepayment tariffs.
There are two groups eligible for the Warm Home Discount:
the core group:
households which receive the Guaranteed Credit element of Pension Credit, even if they receive Savings Credit as well. Currently, you're eligible for Guaranteed Credit-an income top up-if either you or your partner are 65 or older and your weekly income is below £163 (for single people) and £248.80 (for couples). However from 15 May 2019 the terms of eligibility for pension credit will change and you'll only be eligible if you claim housing benefit. As part of the core group, to qualify for the Warm Home Discount each year, you'll need to receive your electricity from a participating supplier (for more information, see below) and either you or your partner's name needs to be on the energy bill.
the broader group:
households on low income and in receipt of certain benefits. Individual suppliers determine eligibility, according to their own criteria, and will have a limited number of discounts available for those who apply.
How to apply
Suppliers use information from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to identify which of their domestic energy customers qualify for the Warm Home Discount as part of the core group and contact them to tell them they qualify by early December. The discount should then be applied automatically to these customers' electricity bills sometime before the end of March. However, some customers may receive instructions to call a helpline before the end of February to confirm their details. If you don't receive a letter and believe you're eligible for the Warm Home Discount, you can should contact the Warm Homes Discount scheme in one of the following ways:
by phone: 0800 731 0214, Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm
by post: Warm Home Discount Team, Blue Zone, Ground Floor Phase 1, Peel Park, Brunel Way, Blackpool,FY4 5ES
Electricity supplier determines who is eligible, based on their own criteria, and how those people apply. You should consult your supplier about their application process as soon as possible in the autumn as the number of discounts they can issue to people in the broader group will be limited.
Not every supplier participates in the Warm Home Discount scheme. Currently only energy firms which supply 250,000 domestic customers are required by law to issue the discounts, although some smaller firms will voluntarily participate.
In June 2018, the government announced that the threshold would be lowered in a "stepped approach" in the next few years, to extend the benefits to more households. By 2020, all suppliers with more than 150,000 customers will have to offer the rebates. This will make 30,000 more pensioners and people on low incomes eligible for relief on their energy bills.
If you'd otherwise qualify for the discount by are with a supplier that doesn't provide it, it might be worth switching to a new energy supplier who does.
In 2018-19, these suppliers participated in the WHD scheme:
- Boost (OVO)
- Bristol Energy - core group only
- British Gas
- Citizen Energy (Robin Hood)
- Co-operative Energy
- Economy Energy
- EDF Energy
- First Utility
- GB Energy (Co-operative Energy)
- Green Star Energy
- Great North Energy (Robin Hood)
- Liverpool Energy Community Company (Robin Hood)
- Lumo (OVO)
- Manweb (ScottishPower)
- Our Power (core group only)
- OVO Energy
- Powershop (npower)
- RAM Energy (Robin Hood)
- Robin Hood Energy - core group only
- Sainsbury's Energy (British Gas)
- Scottish Hydro (SSE)
- Southern Electric (SSE)
- Spark Energy
- SWALEC (SSE)
- Utility Warehouse
- White Rose Energy (Robin Hood)
- Your Energy Sussex (Robin Hood)
Now you have read our handy guide you might want to compare gas and electricity prices and tariffs to see if can find a new deal from a supplier who is signed up to the Warm Home Discount scheme.