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.