Fuel poverty activists have raised concerns that hundreds of thousands of struggling households in Great Britain may miss out on government assistance for their winter energy bills if they do not apply for financial support when it opens on Monday.
According to National Energy Action, approximately 800,000 bill payers missed out on a £150 energy bill rebate last winter due to complex changes made to the government's warm home discount scheme. The charity explained that these changes rendered about 500,000 people ineligible for the scheme, despite having received it in previous years, while an additional 300,000 were left "baffled by the complexity" of the new scheme.
Peter Smith, a director at National Energy Action, expressed disappointment that the warm home discount was not automatically provided to all eligible households. He cited the need to apply to the supplier in Scotland or prove residence in a "higher energy cost home" in England and Wales as sources of unnecessary complexity and an unfair geographical disparity.
Smith also highlighted that many vulnerable households were required to submit an energy performance certificate (EPC) as part of their support application.
The soaring energy costs are expected to pose challenges for households during the upcoming winter. As of October, the government's energy price cap was reduced to £1,834 per year for a typical annual dual-fuel energy bill, down from the previous rate of £2,074 annually.