Martin Lewis discusses Warm Home Discount policies
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Set by the Government and administered by the energy firms, the discount is a one-off £140 reduction to a person’s bill over the months of October and March. According to the Government’s current proposals, the Warm Home Discount is set to be raised to £150 as of next year. Both the discount and the Cold Weather Payment are available to struggling Britons who find it difficult to pay their energy bills on time and in full during the winter months.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Justina Miltienyte, an Energy Policy Expert at Uswitch.com outlined how prepayment customers will be able to get extra financial support this holiday season.
Ms Miltienyte said: “The exact same thing applies to prepayment customers. I appreciate maybe some of them may not be as aware of who their energy supplier is or they haven’t contacted them a lot because they just top up their meter and that’s it.
“If you’re worried about your bill, go contact the energy supplier that is providing your energy through a prepayment meter.
“The same support is available. Prepayment meter customers sometimes could be eligible for more support. If there’s any issues with the prepayment metre, they might get emergency credit.
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“That will be helpful during winter, I guess the first thing is the first port of call is always to contact your supplier and say you’re struggling with your bills.
“Prepayment meters are difficult as they tend to be quite expensive for a lot of customers. From a customer point of view, you get the exact same support so you’re definitely not excluded from anything.”
Emergency credit is available to prepayment customers if their meter suddenly runs out unexpectedly.
Similar to the Warm Home Discount, this is handled through energy suppliers and different firms have different ways of implementing emergency credit.
For example, on SSE’s website, the energy giant explains how it implements the credit policy when dealing with its customers.
SSE states: “We’ll lend you a limited amount of emergency credit to keep you going until you top up. Your meter will show how much. Go to screen ‘R’ on your electricity meter or screen ’22’ on your gas meter.
“You can use the emergency credit once your credit gets below 50p on an electricity meter or below £2 on a gas meter.
“It won’t happen automatically, so you’ll need to action it on your Pay As You Go meter. And you’ll need to pay the emergency credit back in full before you can use it again.”
In August, Jonathan Brearley, the Chief Executive of Ofgem, warned the British public that their energy bills were likely to rise, with prepayment customers likely to be hit the hardest.
Mr Brearley said: “Higher energy bills are never welcome and the timing and size of this increase will be particularly difficult for many families still struggling with the impact of the pandemic.
“The price cap means suppliers only pass on legitimate costs of supplying energy and cannot charge more than the level of the price cap, although they can charge less.
“If you’re struggling to pay your bill you can get in touch with your supplier to access the help that’s available and if possible, shop around for a better deal.
“We have put tough rules in place to ensure suppliers treat customers who are struggling with bills fairly, and welcome their commitment to reach out to those who most need help this winter. Where help is not forthcoming, we will not hesitate to act.
According to the regulator, prepayment customers are set to see an increase of £153 in their energy bills from £1,156 to £1309.
Kate Morrison, Citizens Advice Scotland’s Fair Markets spokesperson, praised Mr Brearley for his promise to address the needs of many vulnerable households up and down the country.
Ms Morrison said: “This is a welcome statement from Ofgem, with energy bills alongside prices rising in the shops access to prepayment crisis funds will be more essential than ever.
“Almost 400,000 people missed an energy payment during the pandemic because they ran out of money – and that was before bills went up and incomes fell.
“We’d encourage people worried about their energy bills to seek advice this winter, the Citizens Advice network unlocked around £1million in energy related financial gains for people during the pandemic, around £272 on average.
All prepayment customers who are concerned about their energy bill should contact Citizens Advice and their supplier as soon as possible.
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