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New Government figures shine a light on which suppliers are supporting households this winter

HOUSEHOLDS across Great Britain are now able to see which suppliers are doing the most and the least to ensure prepayment meter customers are receiving £400 of support with their winter energy bills, as the government today publishes figures showing how many vouchers have been used across suppliers.

For the first time, figures released today reveal voucher redemption rates for the Energy Bills Support Scheme broken down by supplier. E Gas and Electricity are at the top with an 85% success rate and Bulb coming in second with 79%. Those with the fewest redemptions include Good Energy, Utilita and Scottish Power, with the government calling on them and others to make sure they are doing all they can to ensure their customers with prepayment meters know what to look out for and exactly how to redeem their vouchers.

Administered by energy suppliers, EBSS is designed so customers receive the discount in the same way they pay their energy bills, such as via direct debit, credit, smart meters and traditional prepayment meters. Most people will receive the support automatically, with no action necessary. However, people who use traditional prepayment meters are sent monthly vouchers by their supplier via text, email or post with suppliers having contacted customers in advance of the scheme launching in October to advise how the discount would be applied.

Yesterday, the Business Secretary pledged to crack down on the mistreatment of energy users by suppliers, following reports showing some aren’t doing enough to support vulnerable customers. As part of this he committed to publishing a list of supplier redemption rates for Energy Bills Support Scheme vouchers – showing who is meeting their responsibilities and who needs to do more.

Business and Energy Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The public have a right to know which suppliers are leading the charge with getting this help to them, and that’s why I’m holding energy companies to account to make sure they are doing everything they can to support their customers at this time.

“We’re ramping up efforts so consumers know exactly what they need to do to redeem these vouchers, but we need suppliers to do much more and I want to see these numbers rise.”

Today’s figures show nearly £5.7 billion of support has now been provided to 99% households across Great Britain through the Energy Bills Support Scheme to help with their winter energy bills, provided in monthly instalments that began in October and will continue until March.

71% of vouchers have now been redeemed since the scheme launched, up from 65% following continual engagement with energy suppliers and consumers throughout the delivery of the scheme. However, ministers want to see this rise as figures show 99% of vouchers have been issued.

The Government is furthering campaign activity to reach eligible customers with additional advertising rolling out from today (Monday) across community radio, social media and national magazine titles.

Energy and Climate Minister Graham Stuart said: “Government support has directly cut billions from household bills over the last few months, but we also want everyone to get the extra £400 help as well. With the return of freezing conditions, it’s more important than ever that those with prepayment meters look out for and redeem their vouchers as soon as possible.

“I want energy suppliers to do more to alert people to this help and make sure that everyone eligible is prompted to cash the vouchers in – particularly those who are struggling most. Everyone can help though. If you know someone with a prepayment meter, ask them if they’ve got their vouchers and prompt them to use them.”

Suppliers will tell customers where to redeem vouchers, which will be at a Post Office branch or a PayPoint shop, and must make several attempts to contact customers who have not redeemed their vouchers. 

Off-grid households to receive Alternative Fuel Payments from February

The UK government has today also set out more detail on which households will be eligible to receive £200 of support under its Alternative Fuel Payments (AFP) scheme, with the vast majority of eligible households due to receive the payment automatically from 6 February.

The scheme will deliver £200 to households who use alternative fuels such as biomass, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or heating oil, helping around 2 million off-grid households to meet their energy costs this winter. The scheme will particularly support households in rural areas that are not connected to the gas grid, and support was doubled to £200 in the Autumn Statement to reflect the price rises experienced people by using alternative fuels to heat their homes.

Details set out today outline how households can expect to receive the payment, with delivery mirroring the methods used to provide support under the government’s other energy bill support schemes. Most households will not need to take any action to receive the support. A small proportion of households will need to apply for the AFP, for example because they do not have a relationship with an electricity supplier. Today’s publication includes more detail on how the scheme will determine which households need to apply for support.

Wider government support with energy bills

The EBSS and AFP come in addition to wider government support to help households with the cost of living this Winter. As well as discounts provided through the EBSS, the government’s Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) will save a typical household around £900 this winter, based on what energy prices would have been under Ofgem’s current price cap – reducing bills by roughly a third.

The EPG will continue to provide support for another 12 months from April 2023, and with energy prices forecast to remain high, this equates to an average of £500 support for households in 2023 to 2024. An additional £1,200 of support in direct payments is being provided to vulnerable households this year, with £26 billion worth of targeted support to help protect the most vulnerable announced by the Chancellor for the next financial year.

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