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What is the warm home discount and how do I get it?

By Emma Lunn
Thursday, March 8th 2018

The Warm Home Discount is a government scheme aimed at tackling fuel poverty in the UK. Eligible households get a £140 payment each year towards their energy bills.

You might be eligible for the Warm Home Discount if you’re on a low income or receive certain benefits. The £140 comes off your energy bill rather than being paid directly to you. Read on to find out whether you’re eligible for the Warm Home Discount and how to apply.

What is the Warm Home Discount scheme?

The Warm Home Discount is a scheme run by the government, but funded by energy suppliers, to help low income and vulnerable households pay their electricity bills during the cold winter months. Qualifying households don’t actually get the cash, but instead receive a one-off £140 discount on their energy bill sometime between October and March. If you have a prepayment meter, you’ll usually receive the discount in the form of a voucher to top-up your meter.

There are two main groups of people who qualify for the Warm Home Discount: pensioners who receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, and people on a low income. How you apply for the Warm Home Discount depends on which qualifying group you fall into.

Either way, you’ll need to meet the eligibility criteria on a set date each year to apply for the Warm Home Discount. For the 2017-18 winter, that date was 9 July 2017. The key date for the 2018-19 winter has not yet been announced but it’s likely to be around the same time.

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The core group eligible to claim

If you’re a pensioner who receives the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, you’ll be in what’s known as the ‘core group’ for the Warm Home Discount. Guarantee Credit tops up a pensioner’s weekly income if it’s below £159.35 (for single people) or £243.25 (for couples).

If you receive Guarantee Credit, you’ll be eligible for the Warm Home Discount if in the previous July your energy supplier was part of the scheme and your name (or your partner’s) was on the energy bill.

How to apply if you’re in the core group

If you’re in the core group, you won’t normally need to apply for the discount yourself. Instead you should receive a letter about the Warm Home Discount from the Department of Work and Pensions by the end of November. Your electricity supplier will then apply the discount to your bill by the end of March.

If you receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit and don’t receive a letter, you can contact the Warm Home Discount team on 0800 731 0214.

The broader group eligible to claim

If you’re on a low income and receive certain benefits, you’ll be in the ‘broader group’ for the Warm Home Discount. To be eligible you need to be in receipt of certain means-tested benefits such as income support, income-related employment and support allowance (ESA), income-based job seeker’s allowance, or Disability Living Allowance.

Your energy supplier must be part of the scheme and your or your partner’s name must be on the energy bill.

How to apply if you’re in the broader group

If you’re in the broader group, you need to contact your energy supplier to apply for the Warm Home Discount. How you do this varies from supplier to supplier.

Unlike the core group, the discount offered to the broader group is on a discretionary first-come first-served basis with each energy supplier. Once an energy supplier has reached its maximum number of applications it won’t accept any more for that year’s scheme.

When you make an application, your supplier will need details of all the benefits you receive, as well as any other household income.

Some suppliers allow you to pre-register your interest to make sure you are one of the first to be contacted when the next year’s applications are open.

Suppliers who offer the Warm Home Discount

The Warm Home Discount is available to both post-pay and pre-pay energy customers – but not all energy suppliers offer it. Providers are only obliged to take part once they have 250,000 customers, although smaller suppliers can join if they wish.

So if you’re planning on switching suppliers, and think you’ll be eligible for the Warm Home Discount, check your new supplier participates in the scheme before making the switch. The big six suppliers and their subsidiaries/trading names all offer the Warm Home Discount, as well as a number of smaller suppliers.

The Big Six and their subsidiaries

  • British Gas
  • Scottish Gas
  • Sainsbury’s Energy
  • Npower
  • SSE
  • Atlantic
  • M&S Energy
  • Scottish Hydro
  • Southern Electric
  • SWALEC
  • Scottish Power
  • Manweb
  • EDF Energy
  • E.ON.

Other suppliers offering Warm Home Discount

  • Bristol Energy
  • Co-operative energy
  • Economy Energy
  • Extra Energy
  • First Utility
  • Fischer Energy
  • Flow Energy
  • GB Energy
  • Our Power
  • OVO
  • Spark Energy
  • Utilita
  • Utility Warehouse

Some suppliers only offer the Warm Home Discount to the core group, not the broader group, so it’s important to check before you sign up if you think you’re be eligible for the broader group.

Similar money-saving schemes

There are two other schemes which can help you with your energy bills: the Winter Fuel Payment and the Cold Weather Payment. Receiving the Warm Home Discount doesn’t affect your entitlement to these schemes.

You may get the Cold Weather Payment if you receive certain benefits and the average temperature in your area drops to zero degrees Celsius (or below) for seven consecutive days between 1 November and 31 March. You’ll get a payment of £25 for each seven-day period of sub-zero temperatures.

You don’t need to apply for a Cold Weather Payment – it will be paid automatically. You should contact your pension centre or Jobcentre Plus office if you think you should have received a Cold Weather Payment but you haven’t.

The Winter Fuel Payment is a single payment of between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills each winter. How much you get depends on how old you are and if you live alone or with someone else – only one person per household can get the benefit.

You must be old enough to qualify for a state pension during the ‘qualifying week’ in the previous autumn to get the winter fuel payment. Because the pensionable age is changing on a sliding scale each year, the winter fuel payment eligibility age also changes annually. To qualify for the payment for the 2017-18 winter you needed to be born on or before 5 August 1953.

Your Winter Fuel Payment should be made automatically and paid into the same account your pension is paid into. You should get a letter telling you how much you’ll get and an estimated payment date.

You should contact the Winter Fuel Payment centre on 0800 731 0160 if you think you should have received a Winter Fuel Payment but you haven’t.

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