The government has unveiled plans to extend the Warm Home Discount (WHD) by a year, after the scheme had been set to end in March 2021.
On 14 October, it issued a consultation, calling for views on plans to extend the WHD – which provides a payment of £140 towards energy bills each winter – through to 2022. It would see current spending levels maintained, alongside small challengers to better deal with increased volatility in the energy market by facilitating the Supplier of Last Resort (SoLR) honouring a failing energy supplier’s WHD obligations. Views are invited until 11 November 2020.
It follows a lengthy campaign from National Energy Action (NEA), which said the extension would be a “winter lifeline” to millions of pensioners.
NEA, together with Fair By Design, had previously called for the scheme to be extended and expanded in February. They published a report, in which they warned that up to 2mn working age households across the country could be missing out on the WHD. It explained that the scheme being poorly advertised has seen poor customers miss out, while even those who are aware and apply have seen applications unsuccessful due to there being only a finite amount of money available.
It made several recommendations, including that the WHD is expanded for at least three years; for the extended and expanded scheme to use data matching powers to guarantee all low income working age households receive the rebate automatically; for Ofgem to ensure the WHD is better designed, increasing awareness among customers and providing more channels to apply for it; and for all energy suppliers to implement the new WHD policy before the start of the new phase of the scheme in April 2021, as well as regularly liaising with customers to see whether the WHD is meeting their needs.