Under current Government rules, suppliers with 250,000 or more customers must offer 'Warm Home Discount' (previously set at £140 for 2015/16) to households considered vulnerable; this means they may need help covering their energy bills during the winter months, when energy bills tend to be the most expensive.
The Warm Home Discount is taken directly out of the cost of the energy bills over the winter months (October – March), reducing the price of bills for those receiving it.
However, with just two out of the top ten fixed deals being by offered by suppliers in the scheme — vulnerable consumers have a reduced choice of cheap energy plans to switch to; this is down from six of the top ten deals in May 2015.
In previous years, you are automatically eligible for the Warm Home Discount if in July you were:
This group is referred to as the 'core group' of those eligible.
However, some consumers are still able to get the Warm Home Discount, depending on their supplier's own extended criteria. Some suppliers also offer the discount to a wider group of customers who may be at risk of fuel poverty, such as low income households and especially those low income homes that have small children.
In these cases, each supplier has its own eligibility criteria and a limit on how many discounts it will pay out. Contact your current energy supplier to find out more.
These vulnerable consumers eligible for Warm Home Discount are facing increasingly limited choice when looking to switch to the market’s best deals.
Below is a table of the cheapest energy plans currently on the market, and whether the suppliers offer Warm Home Discount:
|Iresa||12 month Fixed Direct Debit||No|
|Avro Energy||Simple and Connect||No|
|Sainsbury's Energy||SE Fixed Price May 2017||Yes|
|GnERGY||GnERGY Fixed June 2017||No|
|Places For People||Together – September 2017 – fixed 32||No|
|Flow Energy||Connect 6||No|
|GB Energy||Fixed 12 Ruby||No|
|Octopus Energy||Octopus Variable||No|
|Extra Energy||Fresh Fixed Price Oct 2017 v1||Yes|
|So Energy||So Dragonfly||No|
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at Uswitch, says: “Energy prices are felt most acutely by people with the least to spend, including the elderly, disabled people and low income families.
"They have the most to gain by switching energy supplier, yet many will feel forced to remain with larger providers to avoid losing their £140 Warm Home Discount.
"It is simply not fair that vulnerable customers face barriers to switching to the market’s best deals."
Uswitch is now calling for the Government to extend the Warm Home Discount to be compulsory for all suppliers, to increase choice and help remove barriers to switching for millions of consumers who are often in the greatest need of lower bills.