Millions urged to claim NOW for benefits to qualify for free winter energy bill cash | The Sun

HOUSEHOLDS have more time to qualify for £150 off their energy bill this winter after the government changed the eligibility deadline.

The Warm Home Discount scheme is available every winter to help those on the lowest incomes struggling with the cost of living.

In previous years you could apply to your energy supplier for the bill discount if they offered it.

But a change to the scheme means it's now automatic.

You can't apply directly, but you can qualify if you are getting certain benefits.

Households were originally expected to be claiming one of the qualifying benefits below by the 31 July to get the £150 discount:


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  • Income support
  • Income based jobseeker's allowance
  • Income related employment and support allowance
  • Housing benefit
  • Universal credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Working tax credits
  • Pension cred guaranteed
  • Pension credit savings credit

However, this date has been pushed back and households will now have until August 21 to be eligible for the payment this winter.

If you meet the qualifying criteria on this date, you'll be in line for £150 off your energy bills between October and March 2023.

The help will come in handy as some energy bills are predicted to hit £4,000 on average from October.

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Millions of people are missing out on £13 billion of unclaimed benefits, experts say.

That means people could be missing out on the cash – as well as the £150 from the Warm Home Discount

Over a million people alone are entitled to Universal Credit – but aren't claiming it.

Consumer group and charity StepChange both have benefits tools that let check whether you qualify for certain benefits.

You will also find benefit calculators from Turn2Us and Policy in Practice.

Any calculator you use will give you an idea of what you could get, but you'll then have to make a claim for the benefit itself and it could take a few weeks to process so now is the time to be proactive.

What is the Warm Home Discount scheme?

The Warm Home Discount was originally set up to help customers of the largest energy firms (those with 150,000 customers or more) on benefits get an annual winter discount of off their bills.

Those that were eligible used to get £140 but from this winter the discount is being upped by £10 to £150.

Those on guaranteed pension credit automatically received the discount from their energy firm and these individuals made up the "core group".

People on other benefits formed part of the "broader group" and had to apply directly with their energy firm to receive the discount.

The allocation of the "broader group" discount was also done on a first come first serve basis and energy firms had a set limit on the number of people who could participate.

However, the scheme has been adapted and energy firms no longer have a say over the eligibility criteria and there's no longer a set limit on who'll receive the discount.

Eligibility criteria is now set by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Households eligible in this years scheme also won't need to apply, irrespective of what benefits they receive.

How do you qualify for the scheme now?

The DWP now decides which households in England and Wales are eligible for the £150 Warm Home Discount.

The new "core group 1" was called "core group" in previous years. The eligibility criteria remains exactly the same this year – you'll need to be receiving the guaranteed element of pension credit.

The new "core group 2" replaces the "broader group" from previous scheme years.

To qualify for the Warm Home Discount payment, you’ll need to receive one of the following benefits on a specific date as set by your energy firm:

  • Income support
  • Income based jobseeker's allowance
  • Income related employment and support allowance
  • Housing benefit
  • Universal credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Working tax credits
  • Pension credit savings credit

How do I secure the discount?

If you're in receipt of the benefits listed above, under the new scheme you won't have to apply.

You'll receive the rebate automatically and your energy firm will discount it from your bill.

You'll receive a letter in October notifying you that'll you'll be eligible for the discount.

If you're unsure if you're eligible or if your letter tells you to speak to the DWP you can call a their helpline which'll be published online at a later date.

The Scottish Government is still flip-flopping over whether to renew their Warm Home Discount scheme in-line with England and Wales' new application-free scheme.

At the moment, it's expected that households in Scotland will have to follow the rules set out in the legacy scheme.

This means they'll likely still be a "core group" who'll receive an automatic payment and a "broader group" who'll have to apply for the scheme with their energy provider.

Frazer Scott, chief executive officer of Energy Action Scotland said: "Households in the broader group in Scotland may yet miss out on Warm Home Discount payments following artificially capped spending for energy suppliers.

"There are many many eligible households which miss out each year due to the application lottery operated by energy companies. People need support, they need certainty to help people through the coming winter."

Will other help be available?

Energy suppliers are also offering cash grants to those hardest hit by bill rises.

For instance British Gas is giving out up to £750 through its hardship fund.

But the amount can vary according to your supplier and your circumstances.

Ask your supplier what's on offer and how to apply, or check here:

  • Bulb energy fund
  • EDF's energy customer support fund
  • E.on's energy fund
  • Npower's energy fund
  • Ovo's debt and energy assistance
  • Scottish Power's hardship fund

Cold weather payments up £25 a day are also on offer when temperatures plummet below zero for households on low incomes.

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The payment is made automatically, including to those on Universal Credit, for each seven day period of low temperatures between November 1 and March 31.

Anyone getting the state pension should also get winter fuel payments worth £100s. Winter fuel payments are a tax-free payment that comes from the government each year and is worth between £100 and £300.

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