Are you worrying about how to afford the heating this year? There are some very big price rises coming in 2021, see Energy bills to rise by at least £139 for millions of households
Millions of people on benefits or a low income can get £140 off their electricity bill through the UK’s Warm Home Discount scheme.
All the large electricity suppliers and some of the small ones offer this. There is a list below.
How Warm Home Discount works
The £140 is given as a one-off discount on your electricity bill, usually between October and March.
If you have a pre-pay electricity meter you can still get this help. You may be given a voucher you can use to top up your payments. Your electricity supplier will tell you exactly how and when you will get this help.
To get the £140, you have to have been with the supplier in July 2021, have your name on the bill and either be on Pension Credit (guarantee credit element) or qualify for your supplier’s low-income option, see below.
It’s automatic from most firms if you get Pension Credit
Almost all firms give the £140 if you get the Guarantee element of Pension Credit – you are in what is called “the core group” of customers for this discount. See the full list of suppliers who do this here.
In this case, you don’t have to apply for it, the DWP tells your supplier that you get Pension Credit so they will pay the £140.
If you are a pensioner but don’t get the Guarantee element of Pension Credit, you may still qualify if you are on a low income.
Other people on a low income or other benefits must apply
Some electricity firms, including all the large ones and most medium-size ones, offer this £140 help to other people on low incomes or benefits. Often their websites call this “the broader group”.
Here the electricity companies set their own rules as to which people can get this help with their electricity bills. If any of the following apply, you may be eligible. If more than one does, you are very likely to qualify:
- you get a benefit such as Universal Credit; JSA, ESA or Income Support;
- you have a child under five, or are pregnant;
- you are a pensioner on a low income;
- you get Tax Credits;
- someone in your house gets a disability-related benefit; or
- someone in your house gets free prescriptions because of a particular medical condition.
You can check your supplier’s website for their rules and how to claim. Or just phone them and ask.
Some websites only have the rules they used last year (2020/21) – these will probably be the same for this year (2021/22).
When can you apply
In mid August 2021, only four suppliers are letting you apply now – Utilta has already closed for applications for winter 21/122. Most start taking applications in September and October.
But many suppliers let you add your name to a list to be sent an email or a text when applications open. This is a good idea, so register now if you can.
If your supplier has gone out of business, contact the firm you have been transferred to.
You don’t need to apply if you get Pension Credit. Here is the list of suppliers on 24 August 2021 that allow people in the “broader group” to apply:
- Affect Energy – see Octopus Energy
- Atlantic Energy – see SSE.
- Avro Energy
- Boost REGISTER NOW
- British Gas & British Gas Evolve OPEN NOW
- Bulb REGISTER NOW
- Co-op Energy – see Octopus Energy
- E (Gas and Electricity)
- E.ON OPEN NOW
- EDF Energy expected to open 7 September
- Green Star Energy – see Shell Energy
- London Power – see Octopus
- M&S Energy – see Octopus
- NPower – see E.ON
- Octopus energy – REGISTER NOW
- OVO REGISTER NOW expected to open in September
- Pure Planet
- Qwest energy – see Octopus
- Roar Power – see Octopus
- Sainsbury’s Energy – REGISTER NOW
- ScottishPower OPEN NOW
- Shell energy expected to open in September
- So Energy expected to open in September
- SSE REGISTER NOW
- Utilita – ALREADY CLOSED
- Utility Warehouse OPEN NOW
Two other schemes that help with heating costs
The Warm Home Discount scheme is in addition to two other schemes.
Almost all people born before 26 September 1955 can also claim a Winter Fuel Payment of £100 – £300. If you had this last year, you don’t need to reapply.
If the weather gets very cold, some people on Universal Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, and Pension Credit will be able to get Cold Weather Payments.
5 tips for getting the Warm Home Discount
- If you aren’t sure if you are eligible, just ask – call your electricity supplier. You could be £140 better off – so it’s well worth a phone call to try!
- Apply to your electricity supplier. The £140 is given as a discount on your electricity bill, you can’t apply for it to your gas supplier.
- Apply as soon as possible! Some firms only offer a small number of discounts to those that apply first. In year in 2020 some were closed before November. So don’t wait until it is really cold.
- Re-apply every year, even if your circumstances are the same, you must apply again. Don’t think that your supplier will contact you – they won’t.
- Be careful if you switch supplier! If you qualify because you are on a low income, don’t switch your electricity supplier until the £140 has been paid unless your new supplier had confirmed you will get the discount.