Age UK responds to the launch of The Energy Bills Support Scheme
Published on 29 July 2022 10:00 AM
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: “Today's confirmation of the Energy Bills Support Scheme will be welcome news to the 29 million households in Britain who will now receive a £400 reduction on their electricity bill. This morning's announcement confirms that the £400 will no longer need to be repaid through consumer bills and will instead come as multiple rebate payments staggered across the autumn, winter, and spring. With the typical consumer expected to be paying £3850 per year from January 2023, this additional support will provide a bit of relief for older households struggling on low and modest incomes this winter.
“While for most the £400 will be delivered automatically for some the process of getting access will be more complicated, and others may miss out entirely. Northern Ireland remains without an equivalent scheme and extending support here must be a top priority. Potential barriers to access where a household pays for their energy bills as part of their rent, as with many self-funded care home residents and social housing tenants, and for those relying on commercial rather than domestic meter points, including many park home residents, will need to be urgently addressed.
“Traditional prepayment meter users will have to rely on top-up vouchers, delivered via text, email and post, to access the scheme. We know from past experience, this will present significant barriers to many vulnerable older households. We encourage prepayment meter users to check their post over the autumn and winter for letters from their supplier as these may contain crucial top-up vouchers which will help you with your heating bill. We also urge energy companies to put in place extra measures to ensure that their prepayment meter customers have received and used their vouchers – the companies know who these customers are, so they have a crucial role to play in maximising take up too.
"As winter approaches, keeping people warm and ensuring they receive all the financial help to which they are entitled are the top priorities. With prices expected to be around 40% higher in January 2023 than expected when the Energy Bills Support Scheme was originally announced, there’s no doubt that the new Government will have to provide more financial support for those most in need to get them safely through the colder months.”