Tangled web of trying to get warm homes discount
CWF reader and radio freelance Michael Bradbrook conducted his own investigation into utility firms and the way they handle the Government’s warm homes scheme …
I have always wondered how the Home Warm Discount Government Scheme is issued to the utility companies that supply our gas and electricity and how they ultimately get their information over to us, the customer.
The Warm Discount Government scheme basically gives people £140 to keep your house warm over the winter months. If you are on a pre-payment card then it is credited to you via the key or card, if you are paying by direct debit then it is credited to your bill.
There are two ways of getting this credit. The core customers, pensioners, severely disabled etc get this credit automatically – other customers have to apply each year but it is on a first come first served basis.
I am with a company called Utillita and use pre-payment and smart meters so I can keep a check on how much gas and electric I am using each day. As I am a freelance volunteer radio presenter I found out that Utillita doesn’t inform their customers via the usual means, for example through snail mail. I also found out that the only ways Utillita apparently inform their customers by their website or social media. So anyone who doesn’t have access to the internet and is not in the core category may be missing out on the discount.
Also Utillita only give you a month and half to claim this discount.
Because of this I started contacting 19 other utility suppliers. I got seven replies. Out of big four all e-mailed back and told me that they announce the scheme via social media, e-mailing customers and also sending the forms to those who they think could benefit from the scheme after telephone calls Even smaller companies like Ovo Energy try and get people to apply for the discount. The seven utility companies also have stated that they leave the scheme open for at least three months.
I got a call back from Utillita and they stated that this year that the DWP and Ofgem approved Utillita to only notified customers via social media and their website. I put it to them if they are going to send out letters to those who do not have internet access and they will be looking into it.
If, like Michael, you use Utillita, this is what they have to say on their site: “If you have already completed an application for the Warm Home Discount 2016/2017, or have received a letter from us stating you are being placed under our automatic application process you do not need to complete this again, we are currently completing our verification process on received applications with the Department for Work and Pensions. Once we have received the information back we will be corresponding with all customers to let them know the outcome.
If you believe you fall into the Core Group element of the scheme, you will receive correspondence directly from the Department for Work and Pensions in early October identifying that you are automatically eligible under the scheme and your Warm Home Discount rebate will be provided by your Electricity supplier as of 10th July 2016.
If you have any further questions on the scheme, please refer to our FAQs below, alternatively if you would prefer to email us, please send your query to firstname.lastname@example.org