Are you worrying about how to afford the heating this year after the price rises in 2019?
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.
5 tips for applying for a Warm Home Discount
- if you are on Pension Credit you don’t need to apply, everyone else on benefits or a low income has to apply.
- 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 now! don’t delay! Some firms close their applications early when a certain number of customers have applied. Last year in 2018 some were closed by the end of November.
- you have to re-apply every year (unless you are a pensioner). Even if your circumstances are the same, you need to 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.
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.
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. 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 means-tested 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 Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit;
- someone in your house gets a disability-related benefit; or
- someone in your house gets free prescriptions because of a particular medical condition.
But some of these suppliers limit the number of people they will help, so the earlier you apply in the year, the more likely you are to qualify. Most start taking applications in September and October.
You can check your supplier’s website for their rules and how to claim. Or just phone them and ask:
- Avro Energy
- British Gas (includes Sainsbury’s Energy and Scottish Gas)
- Co-operative energy – this will be provided through Octopus Energy, applications not yet open but you can register your interest
- E (Gas and Electricity)
- EDF Energy
- Green Network Energy
- Green Star Energy
- NPower (includes Powershop)
- Octopus energy (includes customers of Flow Energy and GB Energy) – applications not yet open but you can register your interest
- Sainsbury’s Energy
- Shell energy (includes First Utility)
- SSE (also includes Atlantic, M&S Energy, Scottish Hydro, Southern Electric and SWALEC)
- Utilita – applications have already closed
- Utility Warehouse.
“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. This makes publicising the scheme hard and results in some people not hearing about it or guessing that they don’t qualify when actually they do.
But now you know about the Warm Home Discount scheme, 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 phone call to 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 1954 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.