Charity responds to pledges over the next three years to amend financial support programme for heating low income and vulnerable homes
The National Energy Action (NEA) charity has said it broadly welcomes the government’s response to a consultation around the Warm Home Discount (WHD) initiative, but has urged improved support in some areas for vulnerable and elderly customers.
According to the charity, the government has committed to introduce a number of changes to the programme, which was launched in 2011 to provide assistance to two million low income and vulnerable homes annually.
Among the proposed changes for the scheme up to 2021 will be a gradual reduction in the threshold whereby energy suppliers are required to participate in the scheme. This currently stands at companies with 250,000 domestic customer accounts. This threshold will fall to 200,000 customers during 2019/2020 and then 150,000 from 2020/2021.
The government has said that the level of annual spending permitted under industry initiatives will increase to £40m from £30m at present.
NEA chief executive Adam Scorer said the amendments proposed by government were good news overall.
He said, “We know many low income pensioners miss out on automatic rebates because they are with smaller suppliers. The reforms for next year will mean more of these vulnerable consumers will get better deals and lower bills.”
“But it is also crucial that the design of the scheme and the overall level of support ensures that existing support for vulnerable elderly customers doesn’t decrease and other households who are also fuel poor benefit automatically for this support.”
Mr Scorer also praised the government’s stated intention to preserve the ‘Safeguard Tariff’ regardless of a Tariff Cap Bill being discussed in parliament.
He added, “This is crucial, but, again, we hope that this support will also be extended so that those consumers who struggle to afford a warm home and may struggle also to get the best deal, are properly protected.”