Park home owner says he won't get energy discount payment

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Up to £50million-worth of Government support for gas and electricity bills has gone unclaimed, consumer groups have warned. A total of around 760,000 energy discount vouchers went unclaimed in October and November, new figures revealed. That is around 380,000 missed vouchers each month, with some of society’s most vulnerable not cashing in their discount at local top-up points.

Under the Government’s Energy bill support scheme (EBSS), every household is entitled to a £400 discount that comes in instalments every month. While the process runs a lot smoother for direct debit customers, billpayers who use prepayment meters need to redeem their vouchers at top-up points to claim the cash. 

But one in five households with prepayment meters has missed out on that help from the Government. In the UK, around two million energy customers are on prepayment meters. 

Three-quarters of the eligible people are supposed to receive their vouchers in the post, while the remaining quarter gets them via email or SMS. These are supposed to be redeemed at people’s local post offices or cashed at shops that are in the PayPoint network, with around half the £66 vouchers redeemed at each. 

However, Paypoint said just 81 percent of the vouchers sent in October and November had been redeemed by Sunday, when they expired 90 days after being issued. Campaigners warned that if similar rates are seen across all issuers of vouchers, far greater numbers will miss out on several million pounds between them.

Before finally receiving her discount vouchers in January, Express.co.uk spoke to Sharleen Holiday, a 41-year-old from Middlesborough who did not receive any voucher from her supplier British gas for three months.

She said the situation was impacting her severe mental health problems. She lives in a flat with her carer and she said the pair were getting by on one meal every three days at times just to keep warm. 

She told Express.co.uk back in December: “To date, I still haven’t received my first lot of vouchers, never mind my third lot. I’m still left in limbo, still left with nothing. I’m putting £90 a week on the electricity and I can’t afford to keep doing it. We are getting pushed from pillar to post.

“It’s getting to the point where we are having one meal every three days if we are lucky so we can keep the electricity on. Some days we go without anything just to put the gas on. We have no family support to get financial help.

“It’s as though with us being on legacy benefits we don’t matter. My mental health has dramatically been affected by the worry and stress of me being able to afford to put the gas and electricity on each month.”

While Ms Holiday has since received her vouchers, thousands more Britons are still yet to cash theirs in. Last month, Citizens Advice said 3.2 million people were left with cold and dark homes last year after running out of credit to top up their prepayment meters with.

And according to a poll by YouGov for the Warm This Winter campaign, 64 percent of prepayment meter customers are vulnerable, with 51 percent having health conditions or disabilities. For those also classified as vulnerable, the situation is even bleaker, with 36 percent reportedly living in a cold damp home. 

Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at Which?, called on ministers to make it “an urgent priority” to get energy suppliers to improve the scheme “to ensure that all customers on prepayment meters – who are more likely to be vulnerable and on lower incomes – are able to access this vital support without further delay”.

Source: Read Full Article