What is the Warm Home Discount and how do I apply?
- By: Ashley Saunders
- January 2021
If you’re struggling with the cost of heating your home during winter, you might be entitled to the Warm Home Discount. Under the scheme, a £140 payment is applied directly to your energy bills.
We’ll help you see if you meet the basic requirements and explain how the scheme works and what it entitles to you.
What is the Warm Home Discount scheme?
The Warm Home Discount scheme aims to help those living on a low income or pension over the winter months with their energy costs. If you’re eligible, then a one-off £140 payment is applied to your electricity bills sometime between September and March.
That said, not all energy suppliers take part in the scheme. So if you’re considering switching suppliers, it’s worth asking before you do. More suppliers do join each year but still double-check.
How much will I receive?
If you qualify for the Warm Home Discount, you’ll receive £140 toward your energy bills over the winter months. However, this isn’t a cash payment. Instead, a credit of £140 will be applied to your electricity account at some point between September and March.
Some suppliers will apply the credit to your gas bill if you’re a dual-fuel customer. If you use a prepayment meter, then you’ll likely be given a top-up voucher.
On top, some suppliers will offer a range of additional support to fuel-poor customers who receive the Warm Home Discount, including advice on using less energy and energy bill debt reduction. Often, suppliers also offer schemes to help make your home more energy-efficient.
Will I be eligible for the scheme?
Assuming your energy supplier participates in the Warm Home Discount scheme, there are two ways you can qualify. You can either be part of the “Core Group” or the “Broader Group”.
You’ll need to meet a few requirements on a specific date (known as the ‘qualifying date’) to be eligible for Warm Home Discount under the Core Group.
- Your energy supplier participates in the scheme (suppliers with over 250,000 customers have to participate, some of the rest offer it voluntarily)
- Your, or your partner’s name is on the electricity bill
- You receive the guarantee credit element of Pension Credit
If you’re in the core group, then you’ll receive a letter from DWP to inform you if you need to take any action or confirm any details with them. As an automatic credit, you shouldn’t need to do anything.
As the qualifying date is typically in July, if you qualify, you receive a discount the following winter. That said, you can find the exact date on the Government website.
It’s slightly more complicated to be eligible for the broader group as you have to apply directly to your supplier. They are free to set the rules and requirements on who they help.
That said, these must include some basic criteria such as being in receipt of income-related Employment and Support Allowance with a pensioner premium.
It’s worth reading the mandatory criteria and guidelines that are set out in the Warm Home Discount regulations.
Claiming the Warm Home Discount
If you’re in the Core Group and currently buy your energy from a participating supplier, then you should receive a letter confirming that you will be automatically receiving the discount. You might have to call a helpline to confirm your details, especially if this is your first year on the scheme or have recently moved.
However, if you don’t receive a letter from the DWP by December and believe you qualify as part of the Core Group, then you should call the Warm Home Discount Scheme helpline on 0800 731 0214. You should call the helpline as soon as possible or you might miss out on the payment.
As a slightly different scheme, you must apply directly with your supplier. If you fail to do so then you will miss out on the payment altogether. Again as suppliers set their own requirements and terms, you will need to call your energy company to check you qualify and find out how to apply.
Typically, energy suppliers will accept applications from those in the Broader Group from the summer. However, they will operate on a first-come, first-served basis. So you want to contact your supplier in early June to confirm their criteria and application date.
Can I switch energy suppliers?
While switching energy suppliers may save hundreds of pounds, it’s worth remembering that not all suppliers are active in the Warm Home Discount scheme. Even though more suppliers are being added, you still should double-check before switching.
If you’re eligible as part of the Core Group and decide to switch from one participating supplier to another, then you should still receive the discount automatically.
Should you switch supplier after the qualifying date, but met the eligibility criteria, then your old supplier is responsible for the payment. Typically they will send you a cheque.
However, if you switched from a non-participating to a participating supplier after the qualifying date, you must make a Broader Group application even if you receive guarantee credit.
As each supplier offers a different scheme to those who are eligible as part of the Broader Group, you can’t transfer applications. So if you switch, you’ll need to re-apply with your new supplier when you change over.
Before switching suppliers, you should check the eligibility criteria of your new supplier as might not qualify.
What are your next steps?
Start by checking if your provider is included in the list of participating suppliers who offer the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
If you believe you’re eligible for the Core Group, but haven’t received a letter from the DWP, call the Warm Home Discount Scheme helpline on 0800 731 0214.
You should also research if you’re entitled to any other winter benefits including Cold Weather Payment and Winter Fuel Payment. Your energy supplier might even offer discounts or grants towards insulating your home or double glazing.