The one-off payment goes out to eligible people between October 2022 and March 2023. A change in the eligibility criteria means those on low incomes now need ‘high energy costs’ to get the funds.
This means tens of thousands of vulnerable people may no longer be eligible for the support, the founder of MoneySavingExpert warned.
Mr Lewis said: “The new system of Warm Home Discount high energy use assessments has left some out in the cold.
“It seems to be a blunt instrument, which may work to keep administration costs down, but has led to edge cases likely unintentionally missing out, and provision is needed to help financially vulnerable people who are falling into these cracks.
“It seems to me, if there’s doubt that people are high energy users, their bills may be a good way to settle it. I’ve contacted Grant Shapps and he told me he’d look at it.
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“I hope there will be some flexibility put into the system to help people at this difficult time, either to come up with solutions, or at a minimum to explain how people can better navigate the rules for a fair outcome.”
Those on the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit will continue to qualify for the benefit.
People on these benefits may qualify for the payment:
- Housing Benefit
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income Support
- The ‘Savings Credit’ part of Pension Credit
- Universal Credit.
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People on Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit may also qualify if their income falls below a certain amount.
Mr Lewis said: “I hope there will be some flexibility put into the system to help people at this difficult time, either to come up with solutions, or at a minimum to explain how people can better navigate the rules for a fair outcome.”
People usually receive a letter to tell them about the discount if they are eligible. The discount is usually applied automatically.
If a person is eligible and their electricity supplier is signed up to the scheme, they should receive the payment by March 31.
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People on means-tested benefits including Universal Credit are also to receive a £900 cost of living payment over the coming financial year.
The payment will be made in three instalments of around £300 with the first one in Spring 2023.
Those who are struggling to pay their energy bills can contact their supplier to see if they can provide help through grants or a pay plan.
British Gas supplies grants through its Individual & Families fund and a person does not need to be a British Gas customer to apply.