IF you are struggling to keep warm this winter, you might be able to get a helping hand via the warm home discount.
It is a government scheme that pays £140 towards your electricity bills and you can now apply for 2019/20.
Here's everything you need to know.
What is the warm home discount?
The warm home discount is a one-off payment of £140 that goes towards your heating costs.
It is usually paid directly to your energy supplier who will then apply the discount to your bills.
If you have a pre-payment meter, you'll be sent a £140 voucher that you can use to top up your account.
The discount applies between September and March and can also be used towards a gas bill if you have the same supplier for both gas and electricity.
There are two ways you can be eligible for the payment:
- if you get the guarantee credit element of pension credit you'll be in what's called the "core group"
- if you're on a low income and meet your supplier's criteria you'll be in what's referred to as the "broader group".
How do I apply for the discount?
If you're in the "core" group of people who get the discount, on July 7, 2019 all of the following must have applied:
- your energy supplier was part of the scheme
- your name (or your partner’s) was on the bill
- you were getting the guarantee credit element of pension credit (even if you get savings credit as well).
You should receive a letter between now and December telling you how to get the discount.
This letter will also say if you need to call the helpline by February 28, 2020 to confirm your details.
If you don't get a letter, contact the warm home discount team on 0800 731 0214.
Your electricity supplier will apply the discount to your bill by the end of March 2020.
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If you're on a low income and get certain means-tested benefits, you could still be eligible if your energy supplier is part of the scheme.
For this group, it's the providers who decide who gets the discount – so you will need to check with your supplier to see if you’re eligible and how to apply.
Do this as early as possible as the number of discounts suppliers can give are limited.
All of the Big Six energy suppliers have opened their applications for the 2019/20 winter. Use the following online forms to apply:
- British Gas
- Scottish Power
Is it different from cold weather payments?
Yes. You may still be able to get a cold weather payment as well as the warm home discount.
The cold weather payment is a £25 payout to benefits claimants when temperatures in their area fall below zero degrees celsius for seven consecutive days between November 1, 2019 and 31 March, 2020.
You don’t need to apply for the cold weather payment as it’s paid automatically.
But you can check to see if you can get a payment in your area.
What is the DWP winter fuel payment?
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has a fund for elderly people to claim money towards heating costs in winter.
The winter fuel payment is worth between £100 and £300 depending on your circumstances and it's for people born on or before April 5, 1954.
But you need to have been living in the UK and have met certain requirements for the "qualifying" week of September 16 to 22, 2019.
Claimants should get the cash between November and December, and by January 13, 2020 at the latest.
You only need to apply if you have never received it, you don't get a state pension or benefits, you only get Universal Credit, housing benefit, council tax reduction or child benefit, or you live in Switzerland or a European economic area (EAA) country.
You can check if you are eligible on Gov.uk.
How much has been paid out in winter support?
In 2017/18, the government says it paid more than £40million in winter support across the UK.
Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, said: “It’s important that older people keep their homes warm during the cold snap and we provide a range of financial support including winter fuel and cold weather payments to enable them to do so.
“We urge pensioners across the UK to check that they and their relatives, friends and neighbours are keeping warm and receiving the support they are entitled to.”
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