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Relief for millions as Warm Home Discount extended

October 16, 2020

There was welcome news this week with the confirmation the Government is to extend the Warm Home Discount scheme for a further year.

The scheme, introduced in 2011, was due to close at the end of March 2021 but will now run until March 2022, much to the relief of the 2.2 million low income households that rely on the £140 payment towards their energy bills.

The announcement by the department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) follows months of lobbying by National Energy Action and Fair By Design. In May, more than 50 organisations, including Fuel Bank Foundation, signed a joint letter to the Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng, Minister of State for BEIS, calling for the extension to the scheme.

In response, the government has now published a consultation for a one-year extension. The consultation includes a number of additional proposals, including:

  • A £140 rebate for poor pensioners, who will receive it automatically
  • A £140 rebate for other fuel poor/vulnerable households through broader group applications (this pot of money will continue to be limited, and so unfortunately not all people who are eligible will be able to receive the rebate)
  • Funding for projects that support low income and vulnerable households with their energy bills through energy advice and debt support, known as ‘industry initiatives’

BEIS is also proposing a number of small but important changes to the scheme, not least removing certain eligibility restrictions for the provision of energy bill support within the industry initiatives, especially for fuel poor households with a health condition or prepayment meter customers at risk of self-disconnection.

We’re really encouraged by the Government’s decision to consult on the extension of the Warm Home Discount through to the end of next winter. At a time when many families are struggling to pay their bills, heat their homes and put food on the table, the WHD scheme provides a vital financial lifeline and we’re pleased the Government has listened to our concerns and taken action.
Matthew Cole, Chair of Trustees at Fuel Bank Foundation

Matthew went on to say: “In particular, we’re pleased that our feedback in relation to people being able to access Fuel Bank support even if they claim WHD funding has been taken on board. This means those at risk of self-disconnection can still receive immediate emergency credit if they have not yet received the WHD payment, giving them an extra layer of protection.

“Overall, the extension to the WHD scheme is a step in the right direction but longer term we would like to see it extended further, especially in a post-COVID19 world, as we know that at present the help provided literally stop families having to make that painful choice between heating and eating.”

The consultation closes on 11 November. You can view the consultation here.