The Warm Home Discount Scheme is a government initiative that gives low-income households a £140 discount on their electricity bill.
It’s a one-off discount administered by your energy supplier (providing your energy supplier participates in the scheme – see below). It isn’t a cash payment, but comes as a reduction in your bill.
Pensioners who receive the Guarantee Credit element of the Pension Credit form the so-called ‘Core Group’ and should receive a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions about their eligibility for the scheme by the end of the year.
They do not normally need to apply for the Warm Home Discount. Instead, the money is automatically deducted from their bill.
The discount is also available to what’s termed a Broader Group of customers who are living in – or at risk of – fuel poverty.
The eligibility criteria here are set by the government, but energy firms can also exercise their own discretion.
Typically, you will have to receive a state benefit such as Income Support or Universal Credit. You might also be able to apply if your annual household income is less than about £16,000 as long as you meet one or more other conditions.
For example, if there is a child under five living permanently in the house or the applicant receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Incapacity Benefit or Attendance Allowance.
You can find out about your supplier’s eligibility criteria on the firm’s website, although you can’t apply until the 2016/17 scheme opens, probably around August or September.
Don’t worry if you pay for your electricity with a pre-payment meter. You can still apply for the discount and eligible customers will receive a credit to the meter.
The rebates are handed out to the Broader Group on a first-come, first-served basis.
The 2016/17 scheme is now open, so don’t delay – register your interest with your supplier now.
You should also bear in mind that your eligibility last year does not guarantee your eligibility this year.
In other words, you will have to apply again. Also, if you switch from one supplier to another before you receive the discount, you will have to apply again for the rebate even if you qualified with the old firm, because the criteria could be different.
Suppliers do not have to participate in the scheme unless they have at least 250,000 customers, which means that some of the smaller utility firms do not offer the warm home discount.
If you think you might be eligible for the scheme, you should therefore choose your supplier with care.
The following companies are all members of the Warm Home Discount scheme:
- British Gas
- Co-operative Energy
- EDF Energy
- Equipower (Ebico)
- Equigas (Ebico)
- First Utility
- M&S Energy
- Sainsbury’s Energy
- Scottish Gas
- Scottish Hydro
- Southern Electric
- Utility Warehouse
You can also find out more about the Warm Home Discount Scheme by calling 0345 603 9439, Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm, or by visiting the government website.