Energy grants Warm Home Discount
What is the Warm Home Discount?
The Warm Home Discount is a £135 payment to help those struggling to pay their energy bills. It's an annual credit that suppliers place in the account of an eligible consumer. It's a compulsory scheme for the large energy companies.
During winter 2012/2013, the payment was worth £130. It is £135 for winter 2013/2014.
The Warm Home Discount applies to two distinct groups:
- The 'core group' are households that receive the guarantee element of Pension Credit. In most cases, these households will be identified automatically by the supplier and won't need to apply for it.
- The 'broader group' are customers in vulnerable groups. Eligibility criteria are different for each supplier. See below.
Support under the core group is targeted at older, poorer pensioner households. Around 650,000 consumers should be helped through the core group.
Is it only for pensioners?
No. Energy companies are also helping a broader group of people who struggle to pay energy bills, in line with government guidelines. Gas and electricity suppliers have a degree of discretion over which of their customers make up the broader group and how many to help, based on their market share.
The participating suppliers have had their own sets of eligibility criteria approved by Ofgem and have a limit on the number of customers who can benefit. Consumers who may be eligible could include those on low income with a disability, long-term illness or with young children. But the actual criteria used will vary as it depends on which electricity supplier you are with. See the Consumer Focus document for eligibility criteria for different suppliers.
Who offers the Warm Home Discount?
Only suppliers with more than 250,000 customers are legally obliged to offer the discount. These are:
Atlantic, British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Ebico, First Utility, Manweb, M&S Energy, Npower, Sainsbury's Energy, Scottish Gas, Scottish Hydro, Scottish Power, Southern Electric, SSE, Swalec and Utility Warehouse.
Smaller suppliers with less than 250,000 customers don't have to offer the discount to either the core or broader groups. Customers of the smaller suppliers should check with their supplier to see if it offers the Warm Home Discount.
How to apply for the Warm Home Discount
Households in the core group should automatically receive the discount on their energy bill without having to take any action. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) is also contacting all core-group recipients to confirm they will receive the rebate. All payments are usually made during the winter months.
Customers in the broader group will have to apply to their energy supplier - check with your energy supplier to find out its eligibility criteria.
The Warm Home Discount (WHD) will only be applied to an electricity account, so if you receive gas and electricity from different suppliers you should contact your electricity provider to register.
The document produced by Consumer Focus summarises the qualifying criteria for the broader-group scheme for each of the energy suppliers for winter 2011/2012.
What if I switch supplier?
- If you switch away from a larger supplier that gave you the WHD to a smaller supplier which doesn't offer it, you could loose your WHD. That said, some of the smaller suppliers could be cheaper than what the WHD is worth. So it is worth checking whether you will be better off. An independent comparison site such as Which? Switch could show you how much you could save by switching away from your current supplier and tariff.
- If you qualify for the WHD under the 'broader group' with your current supplier and want to switch to another supplier, check first that you would still qualify under the criteria of your new supplier's 'broader group'. Call your new supplier to check before you switch. Again, take into consideration whether you could be better off by switching even if you were to loose the WHD.
What about social tariffs?
The Warm Home Discount replaces the social tariffs that used to be offered by energy suppliers to help their most vulnerable customers. If you qualified for your supplier's social tariff, you should be eligible for the Warm Home Discount.