An extra 200,000 pensioners will get money off their energy bills this winter, as the Warm Home Discount scheme expands for the fourth year.
In total, more than 2 million people will receive the subsidy – an increase of 200,000 on last year and around twice as many as when the scheme was first launched in 2011.
The initiative, which exists to help vulnerable and low-income households with their energy costs, has now been expanded to everyone in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit, including those also in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit with Savings Credit.
In addition, hundreds of thousands of the poorest working age people will also qualify for the subsidy to help them keep their homes at a comfortable temperature throughout the cold weather season.
Minister of Sate for Pensions Steve Webb said: It is this coalition government’s mission to build a fairer society, and ensuring our poorest households get the support they need with their energy costs is a key part of that.
“As we approach winter, no-one should have to go without heating because they can’t afford the bills. That’s why we have significantly extended the Warm Home Discount scheme – and increased its value – to give people peace of mind that they can keep their homes comfortable throughout the coldest months.”
In addition to expanding the eligibility criteria for the Warm Home Discount scheme every year since its introduction, the government has also increased the level of the discount year-on-year. For 2014/15, it will be set at £140, compared with £120 in 2011/12.
The discount is funded by participating energy companies and is available to customers of these suppliers. They include the ‘Big 6’ energy firms, which collectively account for over 90% of the domestic market.
The vast majority of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit recipients will receive the discount automatically and will not have to take any action. Pension Credit claimants who are unable to receive the discount automatically will be sent a letter from the government explaining how to apply.
Anyone not in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit but who feels they may be eligible under alternative criteria should contact their energy supplier to check.
Customers who use pre-payment meters or pay as you go electricity meters may also qualify for the discount.
Receipt of the £140 discount does not affect any Winter Fuel Allowance, Cold Weather Payments or other benefits that an individual or household may receive.
More information about the scheme can be found at: www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme.