3rd October 2014
The government has announced it will provide extra help to 200,000 pensioners to help them pay their gas and electricity bills.
In order to ensure elderly people can meet the increasing cost of heating their homes, the Warm Home Discount Scheme – which is paid for by energy companies and worth £140 per household – is being expanded to include every pensioner who received the pension credit guarantee.
This means 200,000 pensioners will now automatically receive the discount, which is applied by energy firms, instead of having to ask for it.
Low income families can also apply for the discount but eligibility differs between energy suppliers and households will have to apply for it directly. A total of 1.7 million pensioners are entitled to the energy discount but the Department for Work and Pensions expects just 1.4 million to take it up.
Pensions minister Steve Webb said: ‘As we approach winter, no one should have to go without heating because they can’t afford to pay the bills.’
However, Age UK has warned that relying on pension credit for the discount means thousands of elderly people will still miss out either because they do not qualify for pension credit or because they do not claim it even though they are eligible.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: ‘Clearly much more must be done to encourage these older people who need extra help the most to claim everything they are entitled to, so they don’t have to struggle through winter.
‘Ultimately the only viable long term solution for fuel poverty is to make people’s homes truly energy efficient, and as quickly as possible.’