Home Business Almost half £400 energy bill help payments left unclaimed

Almost half £400 energy bill help payments left unclaimed

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Almost half £400 energy bill help payments left unclaimed

People who pay their energy bills on prepayment meters are being urged to claim their cost of living help vouchers after figures revealed there has been been a low uptake so far.

The Post Office said that only 60 per cent of eligible customers had claimed their first payment for October.

Those who have not yet redeemed their voucher for October can still do so when collecting November’s payment, although the vouchers are only valid for 90 days.

Ministers announced the Energy Bills Support Scheme earlier this year to help people cover the cost of sky-high gas and electricity bills, fuelled in part by Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

Under the plans, households are entitled to £400 to be paid in instalments in October, November, December and in January, February and March next year.

The discount is applied automatically to a household’s monthly energy bill if it is by direct debit.

All those who pay by meter – around 4 million people, according to energy regulator Ofcom – are entitled to vouchers which can be redeemed at Post Office.

Payment company PayPoint is also processing vouchers. The company told the BBC that so far it has only processed half of the credit it expected in October.

Millons of households are on prepayment meters

(PA)

It is not exactly clear why so many people have not claimed the credit but campaigners believe it could be down to the so-far mild autumn weather.

Adam Scorer, chief executive of the charity National Energy Action, said: “One of the least surprising outcomes from the Energy Bills Support Scheme is that people on older pre-payment meters are most likely to miss out.

“They may not know that the scheme exists, be reluctant to open letters from suppliers, miss the email, or can’t print the voucher off.

“Having the support in place is, of course, vital. Making sure people can and do access it is just as important.

“The UK government must learn this lesson for whatever comes after the Energy Price Guarantee.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “The government has worked quickly to deliver the Energy Bills Support Scheme, helping a broad range of households struggling with energy bills this winter including £1,200 direct payments being made to vulnerable households.

“We encourage customers to have their credit applied to their meter as soon as possible so that they can benefit from the scheme, which comes on top of the Energy Price Guarantee which is saving the typical household around £700 this winter.”

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