Smart Energy shares tips for reducing energy bills
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The charity National Energy Action (NEA) says there is a “significant risk” households on older prepayment meters will not be able to redeem their energy bill discount vouchers. The energy bill support scheme was first set out by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak back when he was Chancellor.
It meant all households were to receive a £400 discount on bills in a total of six instalments, the first of which was paid last month.
But while most households are having their discounts applied automatically, those on traditional prepayment meters are not.
Those using prepayment meters will instead either receive vouchers or automatic credit at top-up points.
Government data shows 42 percent of vouchers for customers with older prepayment meters have yet to be redeemed, according to NEA.
They warn that this could be an “alarming early indication that those most in need could miss out.”
Peter Smith, NEA’s director of policy, said these households faced “significant challenges accessing this government support, despite being at acute risk”.
He told The Observer: “We’re finding vouchers are being sent out with the wrong name or incorrect personal details.
“Because [in-store payment service] Payzone aren’t taking part in the scheme, some customers are having to travel long distances to access support.”
He added the charity have been trying to warn those with older meters to contact their suppliers themselves to ensure they receive the support they’re entitled to.
Mr Smith remarked: “We are also talking to Government about what contingency could be made to ensure these customers get equivalent support if the redeem rate doesn’t improve before the end of March, when the scheme is due to end.”
How to redeem your £400 energy bill voucher if you have a traditional prepayment meter
Payments should be automatic for any household in England, Scotland and Wales with a domestic electricity connection.
If people pay for energy by direct debit, either £66 or £67 will be taken off their monthly bill automatically – it’s the same for standard credit, payment card and smart prepayment meter customers.
However those on a traditional prepayment meter need to redeem the discount in the form of vouchers
Vouchers should be sent in the first weeks of the following months:
- November 2022
- December 2022
- January 2023
- February 2023
- March 2023.
People will be contacted by email or via SMS text message – known as a ‘Special Action Message’ (SAM).
If people aren’t contacted this month – or did not receive contact in October 2022 – they should double check that the company that supplies their electricity has the correct details for them.
They should call and let them know if they haven’t heard anything, as they are entitled to the discount.
The Government’s website explains: “Your electricity supplier will let you know in advance how you will get your discount.
“Your supplier should have your contact details, but if you’re not sure or you don’t receive any information from them, you should check that they have your latest number and email.”
Once someone has got their voucher, they can then take it to a top-up point, such as a branch of the PostOffice or PayPoint, and redeem it when they go in to top-up as per usual.
Unfortunately, people cannot use the vouchers at Payzone stores.
For more on the Energy Bills Support Scheme, people can visit the Government’s official website.
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