Are you worrying about how to afford the heating this year after the price rises in 2018?
The good news is millions may be able to get £140 off their electricity bill through the Warm Home Discount scheme if they are on a low income.
Five points for applying for a Warm Home Discount
The key points for making a Warm Home Discount application in 2018 are:
- Pensioners do not need to apply, other people on a low income do.
- Apply asap Some firms close their applications early when a certain number of customers have applied. Last year in 2017 some were closed by the end of November. If you are told your supplier has closed their scheme, please leave a comment below so I can update the list.
- Be careful if you switch supplier! If you qualify for this discount because you are on a low income, you should NOT switch supplier until it has been paid unless you have first got confirmation from your new supplier that you will get the discount. Your new supplier may have different qualification rules. Or it may be late in the year so the pot of money they put aside for this has already been used up.
- Apply to your electricity supplier. This £140 is given as a discount on your electricity bill, you can’t apply for it to your gas supplier.
- You have to re-apply every year. Even if your circumstances are the same, you need to apply. Don’t think that your supplier will contact you – they won’t.
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 2018, 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.
Automatic from most firms if you get Pension Credit (“the core group”)
Almost all firms give the £140 if you get the Guarantee element of Pension Credit. See the full list of suppliers who do this here. In this case, you don’t have to apply for it, the DWP will automatically inform your supplier that you are eligible 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 (“the broader group”) must apply
The electricity companies in the scheme set their own rules as to which people on a low income apply. Often their websites call this “the broader group”.
If any of the following apply, you may be eligible. If more than one does you are very likely to qualify:
- you get a means-tested benefit such as JSA, ESA; Income Support or Universal Credit;
- you have a child under five, or are pregnant;
- you are a pensioner on a low income;
- you get child tax credit or working tax credit and have a low income;
- you or someone in your house gets a disability-related benefit; or
- your or someone in your house gets free prescriptions because of a particular medical condition.
You can check your supplier’s website (see the links below) for their rules or just phone them and ask:
- British Gas (includes Sainsbury’s Energy and Scottish Gas);
- Co-operative energy (includes GB Energy);
- Economy Energy ;
- EDF Energy;
- First Utility ;
- Flow – they are offering it but there is nothing on their website which says this so you have to phone up and ask!
- Green Star Energy;
- NPower (includes Powershop);
- OVO (includes Boost and Lumo)(closed for this year);
- ScottishPower (includes Manweb);
- Spark (closed for this year);
- SSE (also includes Atlantic, M&S Energy, Scottish Hydro, Southern Electric and SWALEC);
- Utilita (closed in early October);
- Utility Warehouse.
Your electricity supplier will explain how to claim. You may need to supply some proof of the benefits you receive.
“It sounds complicated”
I can’t think of a good reason why the scheme is optional for electricity suppliers nor why they should set their own criteria – it makes publicising the scheme hard and results in a lower uptake.
However, now you know about the Warm Home Discount scheme and it’s simple to find out if you are eligible – just call your electricity supplier and ask… You could be £140 better off – so it’s well worth a try!
Two other schemes that help with heating costs
The Warm Home Discount scheme is in addition to two other schemes:
- most people born before 5 November 1953 can also claim a Winter Fuel Payment. If you had this last year, you don’t need to reapply.
- if the weather gets very cold, some people on Pension Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, and Universal Credit will be able to get Cold Weather Payments.