British Gas warns customers they could lose Warm Home Discount over energy rule

British Gas has warned that some customers could miss out on the Warm Home Discount (WHD) if they make a change before a certain date.

Customers who qualify for the WHD scheme will get a one-off £150 discount on their bills this winter between October and the end of March.

The scheme reopened on Monday, October 16, with millions of customers hoping to get the payment to help with their heating costs.

However, the energy giant, serving around 12 million homes in the UK, cautioned that those who have to apply for the rebate will be excluded if they then move to another supplier.

If customers live in England or Wales and British Gas supplies their electricity, they won’t need to apply, even if they have applied in previous years.

The Government will decide who is eligible and write to them if they are. British Gas will then make the payment to people by March 31, 2024.

Some customers in Scotland may need to apply, but others won’t. The Government will decide which customers receiving Pension Credits are eligible and will write to them. 

On their website, the energy provider warned: “Customers in Scotland who receive other benefits and meet the Government’s criteria can apply for a Warm Home Discount payment.

“If your application is approved, you’ll get the £150 discount by 31st March 2024. If you leave Scottish Gas before 31st March 2024, you won’t get the discount.”

Energy regulator Ofgem has further information on this rule. It said: “If you are eligible to receive the Warm Home discount with your current supplier and are thinking about changing suppliers, you may wish to check that the supplier you are considering moving to also participates in the scheme and that you are eligible.

“If you are successful in applying for a Broader Group discount with one energy supplier, we would suggest you wait until you have received the discount before switching to a new supplier.”

The Broader Group refers to those who don’t get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit and are not automatically eligible but must apply to their energy firm.

Ofgem says its code of practice for independent energy price comparison sites means people must be told whether the supplier they are considering moving to is among those offering the discount.

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Who qualifies for the Warm Home Discount?

To qualify, customers need to claim either the Guarantee Credit portion of Pension Credit or a different ‘qualifying benefit.’

Then the Government will make an assessment of their energy costs based on the property they live in. They’ll need to be receiving these benefits and be a British Gas electricity customer on August 13, 2023.

In Scotland, if someone receives the Guarantee Credit portion of Pension Credits, the Government will write to them and they don’t need to apply. If they don’t receive the Guarantee Credit portion of Pension Credits and live in Scotland, they will not receive a letter from the Government and will need to apply.

Applications are open now and customers can apply online to find out if they’re eligible.

If people find they are not eligible for the scheme, the provider can’t help with the appeal as it’s all decided by the Government.

Customers wishing to appeal any decisions in England and Wales will need to visit the Government’s dedicated Warm Home Discount website.

As soon as the Government gives an update, British Gas will provide the discount to eligible households. 

The Warm Home Discount was first introduced by the Government in April 2011 to help eligible customers in England, Scotland and Wales with their energy bills during the winter. It’s there to provide support for those living on low incomes or pensions.

British Gas adds in its guidance for the Warm Home Discount: “If you’re one of our Pay As You Go smart meter customers, we’ll even send it directly to your meter as a credit and send you an email to let you know it’s on there.

“If we can’t get it directly to your meter as quickly as we’d like, we’ll send you a voucher to top up from a Post Office. That way you’ll still get your discount as soon as possible.”

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