Although the best things in life are free, it’s often the case that they don’t get to the right people. Such is the case with Warm Front and the Warm Home Discount, grants that people often don’t realise they can claim.
One of the things that’s surprised me about the energy market is that there is a lot of help offered that goes unclaimed. Whether it’s cash or discounts or support to install insulation and energy efficiency measures, I often see press releases from energy companies or the government encouraging people to take the help that they’re offering.
What is the Warm Front scheme?
The Warm Front scheme was established to help struggling households improve their heating and insulation. Families on certain benefits can get improvements worth up to £3,000 to install better heating or make their home more energy efficient, meaning they won’t shell out as much on energy bills.
Yesterday Consumer Focus announced that nearly four in ten households are worried about affording their energy bills this winter, yet around £50 million from the Warm Front scheme went unclaimed last year. And it’s not the only scheme that could help people who are struggling.
The Warm Home Discount gives people a discount of £130 on their energy bills if they fall into certain vulnerable groups. And these are by no means the only two – there are many other energy grants that either help people with their bills, or help lower bills by making their homes more energy efficient.
Of course, these schemes sound great to me – with rising energy prices it’s vital that we look after those who will be more vulnerable when winter sets in. But why don’t people know about these discounts?
How do I know if I qualify?
Lots of people will argue that the government and energy companies are simply not good enough at telling people what help is on offer. And I partly agree – although this information is available, it’s perhaps not as visible as it could be.
I think one of the main problems is that people don’t realise that they’re eligible. The criteria for both of these schemes is published on Directgov, but it can be quite complicated – you need to check with your energy supplier as different suppliers have different criteria.
As consumers we need to be as proactive as possible in finding out where we can get help if we need it. But the government and energy suppliers must also improve how they spread the word, particularly when people might not realise they are eligible.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t technically ‘free’ money – we all pay through our energy bills to support these schemes, so it’s important to claim any relief that you are eligible for.
This post is one of my small contributions to spreading the word – do you think you’re eligible for one of these schemes? And what do you think could be done to encourage more people to check whether they qualify?