Energy Priority Services Register
Extra help for energy customers in vulnerable situations was announced recently by Ofgem. Energy customers need to sign-up with their energy supplier to be included in their supplier’s Priority Services Register (PSR) to get further assistance.
From January 2017, Ofgem is broadening the eligibility criteria for the register to include any energy customers in vulnerable situations who need it – including those whose situation is temporary. This could include customers with mental health issues which prevent them from understanding their bill or who have injuries which stop them topping up their pre-payment meter.
Each energy company does have their own criteria of who is applicable and the benefits afforded to it’s PSR customers. However, broadly speaking, you can sign up to join the PSR if you:
- Are a pensioner
- Have a disability or are chronically sick
- Have a visual or hearing impairment
The benefits may include:
- Advance notice of planned power cuts
- Given priority in an emergency such as in the event of supply disconnection the assistance could include providing alternative heating and cooking facilities
- To ensure that energy service related callers are genuine, meter readers for example, a password protection scheme can provide that reassurance
- Customers can ask their supplier to send their bill to a nominated other person – for example a family member or carer who has agreed to receive it
- If a customer is unable reach their prepayment meter they can asked for it to be moved
- Accessible information – suppliers can provide customers with account and bill information in an accessible format, e.g. with larger print or Braille
Suppliers are also prohibited from disconnecting premises occupied by a customer eligible for the Priority Services Register during the winter months (1 October – 31 March).
Winter Fuel Payment
The Winter Fuel Payment is a tax-free payment between £100 and £300 and is available to help individuals pay their heating bills.
You usually get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you get the State Pension or another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit).
Warm Home Discount scheme
You could be eligible to get a rebate of £140 each year on your electricity bill under the Warm Home Discount government scheme. Note that the money isn’t paid directly to the consumer, it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill applied between October and April.
There is a ‘core’ group of people who are eligible for the discount as well as a ‘broader’ group.
You’ll be eligible for the scheme under the ‘core group’ if you get:
- the Pension Credit Guarantee Credit only, or
- the Pension Credit Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit
Suppliers set the eligibility criteria for the broader group. The eligibility criteria may vary between suppliers.
Find out more information about home heating support schemes and advice on Ofgem’s website.