Thousands of Britons are still waiting to learn if they will receive the £400 of Government support Westminster pledged under the energy bills support scheme. From October, the Government made available a £400 grant administered over the course of six months to help cover soaring energy costs for households. Bill payers are still forking out double the amount for energy than they were this time last year, despite various support schemes rolled out amid the cost-of-living crisis.
But while this extra support is likely softening the blow for many right now, others have been less fortunate. For hundreds of thousands receiving electricity from a communal supply, there are fears they may never see the promised Government funds.
For people living in standard homes who pay for their energy via direct debit, the cash has already arrived in their accounts and they are due to receive the second £66 payment this month.
However, campaigners have warned that those on prepayment meters have been finding it challenging to use vouchers to deliver their help, despite the fact they are also eligible for the discount.
Meanwhile, homes that depend on a communal electricity supply and local sub-meters (a private wire supply) are still unsure how the Government will help them.
This issue mainly applies to people living in recent housing developments with a shared electricity supply. People who live in this kind of housing are normally billed by their landlord or the managing agent firm based on the amount recorded by a sub-meter.
For the 180,000 or so park homes in Britain, and many bigger homes converted into bedsits, the problem is the same, according to a report by the Guardian. But ministers have promised that there will soon be a solution to the issue keeping hundreds of thousands of Britons in the dark over this emergency funding.
Stephen Knight, a director of Heat Trust, the national consumer protection scheme for heat networks, told the Guardian: “Traditionally there was a good reason why certain buildings had a central electricity supplier. Typically they had solar panels or other generating capacity, which allowed the residents to share in the benefits.
“Ministers have promised they are looking at this issue but so far details on how this group will be paid are yet to emerge.”
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And while some prepayment meter customers are reportedly finding it difficult to access the discount, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has made an explainer video to provide assistance.
Around 4.5 million Britons rely on energy prepayment meters, many of them on low incomes, but some are still waiting for the top up voucher from their energy provider. For those who take a card or key to their local top-up point to put credit on their prepayment meter, BEIS explains they need to take a few simple steps to access the money.
But prepayment meter customers need to make sure that their energy suppliers have up-to-date contact details so they can send their vouchers to the right place. They also need to keep watch for their energy vouchers, which are sent the first week of the month from October to March via SMS text, email or post.
Then, people should visit their local top-up point (which could be a service station, shop or post office), indicated by their supplier with the voucher to redeem it. Next, people should use the card or key in their prepayment meter as usual, and the discount should apply.
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Many Britons have taken to social media to vent their frustration over fears of an absence of the discount they had been promised by the Government. Twitter user W J Jones posted: “Anyone else not received this £400 energy bills discount to support households this winter? Prepayment on Electric quarterly payment on Gas no sign of the rebate on either [sic].
“Most people that I know have had a notification, pre-payment had a voucher with a code to claim others as you say added to their energy account, not seen either on ours.”
One mum has also appeared on social media in tears because she had to choose between feeding her children and topping up her meter.
Speaking on a Tik Tok video, she vented about the devastating effect it’s had on her family, saying: “I’ve still not got my vouchers for £66. They say don’t rely on them but when you haven’t got £66 it’s a lot of money.”
Speaking about the prepayment meter, she said: “It’s through no fault of my own – when I moved, they were here. I’ve got £1.57 left. Yesterday I had to choose between getting food or doing that (topping up meter).”
A Government spokesperson said: “We know this is a difficult time for people across the country, including those with a communal electricity supply, which is why they will receive help with their energy bills through the energy bill relief scheme. We recently passed legislation meaning private network suppliers must pass on the savings they receive through the scheme to residents. Additionally, those using communal electricity will also receive £400 in support through a scheme set up for those without a domestic electricity meter which we will announce shortly.”