Clare Francis: If you’re struggling to afford your energy bills, you may be eligible for some help. The Warm Home Discount scheme was launched by the Government in 2011, and it offers a rebate of £135 off your electricity bills. Yet many of those who qualify aren’t actually getting it, probably because they’re not aware of it.
So what exactly is it, how does it work and who can get it? Well, James Arnold, who is Head of Innovation at EDF Energy is here to explain.
So James, can you just talk us through exactly what the Warm Home Discount scheme is, and how it works?
James Arnold, EDF energy: Well the Warm Home Discount scheme is a scheme which provides a rebate of £135 this year, and £140 next year, either to pensioners who are on low income, or to any other customers who are on a low income.
CF: And do all energy providers offer it?
JA: Almost all suppliers do, yes.
CF: And how do you know if you qualify?
JA: One of the great things about the scheme is that if you’re a pensioner on a low income, you don’t have to do anything at all.
You will receive a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions between September and January and then automatically you’ll be enrolled onto the scheme and receive a rebate, as I’ve said, of £135 this year and £140 next year.
If you’re not a pensioner on a low income, the best thing to do is to contact your supplier directly if you think you might be eligible, because all of the criteria varies slightly between suppliers.
CF: And how is the rebate paid? Do you see the money or is it automatically deducted?
JA: It can be paid in two ways. If you’re a credit customer, you’ll see the rebate directly on your bill; if you’re a pre-payment customer then what will happen is you will receive vouchers through the post that can be redeemed at any pay point outlet against your bill.
CF: And what about those who are struggling to afford their energy bills, but who don’t qualify for the Warm Home Discount scheme – is there any other help available to them?
JA: So suppliers offer a range of help. At EDF Energy we offer a scheme called the Personalised Support Service, and with that scheme we can help you in terms of finding the cheapest tariff, the cheapest payment method. We can help understand if there’s anything we can do regarding energy efficiency under the Eco scheme. In particular we also offer a debt helpline, and we can offer grants via the Trust Fund, so again to help those struggling to pay their bills – and there’s no cost to any of those services.
CF: So the key thing, the key advice to consumers is to ring your energy provider if you’re struggling?
JA: Very much so, there is no charge for any of those services. The worst case is that there’s no help available but the best case you might be surprised by quite how much is on offer.
CF: That’s great, thanks very much James.
JA: Thanks Clare.