Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Are you eligible for the Warm Home discount?

Support is available from major energy suppliers to help the vulnerable and those in hardship to pay for their energy this winter.

The Warm Home Discount is a new annual rebate payment of £120 that will be paid to low income and vulnerable households. It replaces social tariffs and voluntary agreements previously offered by the major energy suppliers.

West Sussex County Council Deputy Leader Lionel Barnard, who has responsibility for Communities, said: “As energy prices continue to soar, many of the poorest households are being left with no choice but to turn their heating down or even off, resulting in sometimes severe health risks.

“The County Council recently launched its Age With Confidence initiative, which aims to help people prepare for older age and to know where to go for information and advice. One problem that many elderly residents can face is having to try and find the money to heat their home. If residents are eligible for the Warm Home Discount, I would encourage them to apply for it.”

The Warm Home Discount has a ‘core’ group of eligible households and a ‘broader’ group. The core group consists of households in receipt of the guarantee element of the Pension Credit (on the qualifying date of 11 September, 2011) who will automatically receive the discount on their electricity bill.

Vulnerable and lower income households of working age who feel they may be eligible for the discount under the broader group can, in most cases, submit an application to their energy supplier. Some suppliers are already offering the rebate in replacement of their social tariff, while others may offer the discount on top of existing tariffs.

Each energy supplier has their own set of eligibility criteria, broadly defined by Ofgem, and can decide which groups of households qualify under the broader group. If residents are already registered as a vulnerable or priority customer with their energy company they should receive the discount automatically if they are deemed eligible.

If residents are on a social tariff, they’ll be notified of the rebate when the tariff comes to an end and asked to apply for the Warm Home Discount.

If they find they are not eligible for the rebate, their energy supplier can provide information on what other help might be available, for example the Priority Services Register for vulnerable customers, which offers extra services such as advance notice of supply interruption, frequent meter readings and additional heating controls.

For further advice other than from the energy supplier, contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06. Anyone worried about paying their heating bills should contact their energy supplier or call the Home Heat helpline for impartial advice on 0800 33 66 99.
Ofgem is the Office for Gas and Electricity Markets.

Suppliers taking part in the scheme are British Gas, Southern Gas, Sainsbury’s Energy, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Scottish Power. Support for the core group only will be offered by Utility Warehouse and Equigas.

The number of consumers in the Broader Group is very limited so many consumers may not get the discount even if they meet the eligibility criteria. However, British Gas has announced a commitment to give the rebate to all of its eligible electricity customers who apply before the end of January 2012.

There may be cases where the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) issues letters to consumers advising that they qualify for the core group rebate, but that the DWP are unable to automatically process the rebate with the supplier. Those customers should refer to the letter and contact their supplier for more information.

Michelle Cheeseman, The West Sussex Fuel Poverty Co-ordinator is funded by the West Sussex councils and the NHS. The position helps councils, the NHS, the voluntary sector and community groups to reduce fuel poverty through a range of initiatives, training and partnership working. Please contact her on 01903 737537.