Energy bill warning: UK households could miss out on £400 discount – urgent alert

Energy bills: Chairman reveals 140% increase in calls for help

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The Government announced this week that from October, 29 million households will be offered a non-repayable £400 discount on their energy bills as part of the Energy Bills Support Scheme. Forming part of the £37million Cost of Living Support package, the announcement came after horror predictions over the October energy price cap emerged.

According to some estimates, the price cap could even hit almost £4,000 by January.

The £400 discount that will be administered by energy suppliers and be paid to consumers over six months looks set to soften the blow.

But a charity has warned that some households are at risk of missing out

Although an automatic payment will be taken from those using domestic electricity meter points who pay for their energy via standard credit, for others, it is not as simple.

For traditional prepayment meter customers, they will receive Energy Bill discount vouchers for the week of each month via SMS text, email or post, using the customer’s registered contact details.

Customers will have to make sure they redeem these at their usual top-up point.

Many households using prepayment meters include some of the most vulnerable in the nation, which have been pushed to the brink of fuel poverty due to the crisis.

Maureen Fildes, from National Energy Action, fears that these households may struggle to redeem these vouchers.

She said on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “I don’t think that is going to be sufficient to help people cope with the cost of living this winter.

“A lot of people on prepayment meters don’t have a lot of interaction with the energy supplier; they just top up as and when they need to.

“If it’s a paper voucher, we’d like to ensure that people don’t ignore post from their supplier.

“It’s not going to be another bill; it is going to be some level of support.”

According to industry regulator Ofgem, around 4 million people in the UK use prepayment meters.

Ms Fildes urged those who pay for bills using this system to make sure their contact details with their supplier were up to date and not to ignore any post from their supplier.

Otherwise, they face losing out on the discount, which start from £66 a month.

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This will then rise to £67 each month from December until March 2023.

Energy Minister Greg Hands said: “I encourage families across the country to engage with these plans and particularly those customers on traditional prepayment meters who need to take action.

“Coupled with world-leading action to radically enhance our home-grown energy security, we will continue to be on the side of British consumers now and into the future.”

There are number of other areas where the Government is attempting to help out the most vulnerable households amid the cost of living crisis.

But critics have hit out at Westminster’s “slowness” to intervene ahead of the price cap announcements.

Mike Foster, head of the Energy and Utilities Alliance, told Express.co.uk: “Government intervention in dealing with the price cap was too slow, because once the price cap has been announced by Ofgem, suppliers immediately ramp up their direct debits.

“The majority of billpayers pay by direct debit, so we were paying the increased cost before the price cap even came in because annual adjustments get made by the direct debit.

“We were warned that this was going to happen before any revenue was there for us as consumers.

“The Government need to think a bit more sharply about putting things in place at the time when Ofgem announce their latest price cap change, which is in a couple of week’s time.”

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