Martin Lewis provides advice on accessing warm home discount
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A huge 1.1 million low income households in the UK who get the Warm Home Discount could potentially lose financial support, according to Citizens Advice. This comes as many of the country’s energy suppliers have gone bust.This comes as many of the country’s energy suppliers have gone bust. On top of this, the energy bill cap has risen by £139 for people on default tariffs and £153 for people on prepayment meters. The charity estimates that more than 1.5 million people have been affected by energy supplier failures as of September 2021.
One of the Britons who face losing access to the Warm Discount is Shaun from Northumberland, who reached out to Citizens Advice for support. Despite his energy supplier being still in business, the single dad is concerned about how the energy bill hike will impact his ability to look after his son over the holiday season. Shaun said: “I’m terrified thinking about how I’m going to cope this winter. If my Universal Credit is cut and bills go up, I just won’t have the extra to pay for any increase on my gas and electric.
“It’s starting to get colder and I’ll need the heating on for my son. I’ll just have to wrap up when he’s at school, so I can put it on when he gets home. Even then I’ll only be able to have it on for a couple of hours, not the whole evening.” Citizens Advice has warned that consumers with low incomes are set to face a “triple whammy” of rising living costs as inflation rises, the £20 Universal Credit uplift is scrapped and energy bills soar.
The charity’s research found customers who switch to a new energy supplier, due to their previous supplier going bust, risk losing access to the Warm Home Discount. Accounting for the pending benefit cut and rise in inflation, low income households who switch energy suppliers face losing £37.40 a week. Usually, the Warm Home Discount gives families a one-off £140 reduction on their energy bills between October and March. It is not paid directly to those who receive it, but instead to the household’s energy supplier.
Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, explained the impact the upcoming energy bill crisis will have on those receiving the Warm House Discount. Ms Moriarty said: “Overnight price hikes will be a shock for more than a million households whose energy companies have gone bust. We’re particularly worried about those who’ll face desperate choices this winter because of the cumulative impact of soaring bills, the planned cut to Universal Credit and inflation. The government and Ofgem must guarantee that the Warm Home Discount will be continued for people moving to new energy suppliers.
“People on the lowest incomes should be able to access emergency winter grants so they can stay warm in the cold months ahead.” Applications for the scheme open on October 18, 2021 for those who are eligible. People who receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit will be able to claim the Warm Home Discount this year. On top of this, low income households are encouraged to contact their energy supplier directly to see if they are eligible.
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