THOUSANDS of hard-up households could miss out on extra energy bill help this winter, unless they do a simple check now.
Claiming certain benefits means you're eligible for a one-off payment to help with higher bills worth £150.
The Warm Home Discount (WHD) scheme runs every year.
There is a cut-off date when you must be getting one of the qualifying benefits to then get the £150 payment.
The government has not yet revealed the date for 2023 – but last year it was August 21.
It means many who are eligible could miss out if they don't make a claim soon.
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Qualifying benefits include Universal Credit and Pension Credit.
Universal Credit is for those out of work, or in work and are on a low income.
The latest estimates suggest £7.5billion worth of Universal Credit payments go unclaimed every year.
And it's thought that around 850,000 pensioners are missing out onPension Credit, which tops up income in retirement for those with the lowest savings.
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As well as missing out on potentially hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year from the benefit itself, they won't get the £150 Warm Home Discount payment.
Other benefits which qualify for the WHD include:
- Income support
- Income based jobseeker's allowance
- Income related employment and support allowance
- Housing benefit
- Universal credit
- Child tax credit
- Working tax credits
The £150 payment is made by energy suppliers in October, but the period you qualify for it is far earlier.
In previous years some on low incomes had to apply for the payment, but a change to the scheme starting from last year means that it's now automatic – as long as you claim the right benefits.
Richard Lane from debt charity StepChange told The Sun: "For anyone struggling to afford their energy bills, or pay off arrears, it’s important to check what support you might be eligible for.
"Grants may be available for some households on a low income and certain means-tested benefits from energy providers, the government or local authorities.
"For example, the Warm Home Discount could get you £150 off your electricity bill for winter 2023 to 2024.
"In England and Wales, you will be able to check your eligibility for this from autumn at www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme/low-income."
To see if you qualify you can use a benefits calculator – all you need are a few details like how much you earn and what rent or housing costs you pay.
StepChange has a free benefits calculator which is quick and easy to use.
Entitledto's free calculator works out whether you qualify for various benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit.
MoneySavingExpert.com and charity StepChange both have benefits tools powered by Entitledto's data that let you save your results without logging in.
Use Policy in Practice's calculator to not only find out which benefits you could receive, but also to find out how much cash you'll have leftover each month after paying for housing costs.
Charity Turn2Us' benefits calculator works out what means-tested benefits you might be entitled to, as well as whether you qualify for carers allowance.
All the calculators should give you an idea if it's worth making a claim, but if you qualify and how much you can get will depend on your actual application.
What is the Warm Home Discount and when do I get it?
The Warm Home Discount is for energy customers on low incomes in England and Wales.
In Scotland, some customers will need to apply for cash.
It offers a £150 payment which is usually applied as a discount to bills by suppliers from October onwards.
It's up to individual energy companies to decide when they will give their customers the discount.
Last year several energy firms started paying the WHD in December.
They have until March 2023 to ensure that all eligible customers are paid the discount.
Richard added: "It’s also a good idea to contact your energy provider to let them know your struggling and see if they offer any grants or hardship funds.
"Your local council may have schemes to support households on a low income with the cost of energy bills and other essential costs through the Household Support Fund.”
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You can find out more about what help energy suppliers are offering in our guide.
Plus we explain how to get support from the Household Support Fund – it could be worth as much as £1,000.
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