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Warm Home Discount
The four-year Warm Home Discount was introduced in April 2011 as part of the government's Spending Review. It will run until March 2015.
The aim of the £1.1 billion scheme, which is funded by energy suppliers, is to help low-income and vulnerable households with their annual energy costs.
Some 2 million households are expected to benefit each year.
What is the Warm Home Discount?
The Warm Home Discount is an annual rebate offered by your gas and electricity supplier - or suppliers.
Only the Big Six energy firms - British Gas, Scottish Power, SSE, E.ON, EDF Energy and npower - are required by law to provide rebates under the Warm Home Discount scheme.
However, some smaller energy providers offer “broader group schemes” that you may qualify for (visit the Department of Energy and Climate Change website for more details).
Who is eligible for it?
The Warm Home Discount is automatically available to Britons who receive the guaranteed element of Pension Credit.
If this is the case, you will be automatically identified and sent a letter from your energy supplier to inform you of the rebate at some point during winter 2012/2013.
Pensioners are not the only potential beneficiaries, though. You may, for example, fall into what is known as the “broader group”.
And if this is the case, your eligibility will depend on your specific energy supplier.
Examples of qualifying criteria include being in receipt of the savings element of Pension Credit, Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance.
You may also qualify for a “broader group” rebate if you are on Long-term Incapacity Benefit or if you or a child in your household receives Disability Living Allowance.
However, depending which energy supplier you are with, simply living with a child under the age of five, or having a household income of below a certain level, could be enough to make you eligible.
To ensure that you do not miss out, it is therefore a good idea to visit your energy supplier's website or contact the Warm Home Discount Scheme Helpline direct on 0845 603 9439 for more information.
When will I get my discount?
The next energy discounts will be made in winter 2012/13.
Automatically eligible recipients will therefore get the rebate via a reduction in their energy bills early next year.
Those who qualify for the discount but not for an automatic rebate will receive a letter asking them to provide further information that can be found on their electricity bill.
The rebate will then be made in the same way once this information has been received.
How much will I get?
During winter 2011/2012, the Warm Home Discount rebate was £120.
However, this scheme is now closed and those qualifying for a rebate in winter 2012/2013 will receive £130.