Thursday, 31 October 2013

£135 OFF YOUR WINTER ELECTRICITY BILL

Two million people can get at least £135 off their electricity bill this winter. It's called the Warm Home Discount. Some will be paid automatically. Others have to claim or they will not get it. The sooner you claim the better.


Core Group

The biggest group – called the ‘core group’ – are more than a million older people who get pension credit and fulfill other conditions. The ones who qualify fall into two categories depending on their age on July 20, 2013.

•    Those under 75 who get the guarantee part of pension credit but not the savings credit. That means their income before the pension credit will normally be no more than £115.30 if single or £183.90 if a couple. Some with a disability may get more but the key test is they get guarantee credit and NOT savings credit.

•    Those aged 75 or more can have a higher income and get the discount. Their income before pension credit will be less than £145.40 a week (single) or £222.05 (couple). Some with disabilities can qualify with a higher income. As long as they get some guarantee credit they will qualify even if they get savings credit as well. 

Pensioners who ONLY get savings credit part of pension credit will not qualify under this Core group category.

The qualifying date is 20 July 2013. You must be getting the pension credit on that date and it is your age on the date that counts. For couples it is the age of the older partner which counts.

People in the core group should not have to claim. Suppliers will use information from the Department for Work and Pensions to pay them automatically. However, some who qualify may not be identified. If you have heard nothing by Christmas and you think you qualify, contact your energy supplier. Some of the smaller suppliers do not pay the discount and if your energy is supplied by one of them you will not get it. Details below.

Broader Group

The broader group who qualify are low income households where there is a young child or someone with a disability. With some suppliers pensioners not in the core group can qualify as part of the broader group. People in this broader group have to make a claim.

Unfortunately the energy suppliers all have different rules for qualifying. They range from the most generous which is British Gas to the least which seems to be EDF.

If your income is low and there are young or disabled children or disabled adults in the household or you are over pension age (and are not in the core group) you may be entitled to the discount. Around half a million qualified last year in this group.

If you think you may qualify contact your supplier and say you are asking about the Warm Home Discount. Or look online on your supplier's website and search for Warm Home Discount. There is a list of the suppliers who are in the scheme here www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme/eligibility. The links there take you to the Warm Home Discount details on each website.

Claims should be made as soon as possible. Suppliers have a fixed amount of money for this group and when that runs out the supplier will close its scheme. Last year some closed their scheme by the end of December. 

People in the broader group should not switch supplier until the discount is made. They could be disqualified if they do.

Payment

The discount is normally taken off your winter electricity bill which could mean waiting until March 2014. People in the core group who have moved supplier since July 20, 2013 will be sent a cheque by their old supplier. Broader group customers who move supplier before the discount is made will probably lose it. All discounts should be made by the end of March 2014. People on prepayment meters will have the credit added to their key. Some will be sent a voucher to take to the Post Office to credit the key. Other suppliers will update the key automatically.

Supplier

The big six electricity suppliers are legally obliged to offer the Warm Home Discount. They are British Gas (including Sainsbury’s), EDF Energy, E.on, npower, Scottish Power and SSE (that includes Atlantic Energy, Scottish Hydro, Southern Electric, and Swalec). SSE also operates the scheme for Ebico, Equipower, and M&S Energy. First Utility and Utility Warehouse are also in the scheme. If you get your electricity from another small supplier you will not get the Warm Home Discount.

British Gas is adding £60 to the Warm Home Discount for dual fuel customers or £20 for electricity only customers. It is paying £40 for customers who only get gas from it if they were on the Essentials social tariff. Scottish Power is sending an extra £50 to the 140,000 customers who got the warm home discount last winter. This money is a fine imposed on the firm by the regulator Ofgem for mis-selling its services.

More information

www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme/eligibility lists the suppliers who give the Warm Home Discount  involved with links to their schemes.

The Home Heat Helpline 0800 33 66 99 can give advice about the Warm Home Discount and other schemes to help with heating bills. You could also contact the Energy Savings Trust www.energysavingtrust.org.uk or the Cntre for Sustainable Energy www.cse.org.uk They can give advice about local help with insulation as well as national schemes.

8 comments:

  1. Hi Paul

    Mark Todd, the co-founder of energyhelpline called me Wednesday morning after an email I sent to their press dept finally rang some bells. He agreed I was right and sent me an email confirming this which I can forward to you. Emma Bush, the IT manager at Uswitch also called me Thursday evening and also agreed I was right. Liz Chester at Ofgem is having someone from their IT team call me, but they seem to be dragging their heels. My local Labour party representitave is contacting Ed Milliband's office. I spoke to Reg Platt the energy analyst who has put me in touch with Terry Macalister the energy editor at the Guardian who will be calling me Sunday morning for an interview. If you want to know how the current flawed calculations in the HTML on the switching sites are giving wildly inaccurate comparisons please call me. I am extremely concerned that people are being misled and have been trying for over a week to get this story out. I never realised how dificult it is to get in touch with people in the news media.

    Regards
    Kevin Jenkins
    07854 939 091
    01244 639 974

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