UP to 1.5million Brits who are struggling to pay their energy bills are not eligible for the warm home discount, new research shows.
The scheme allows households to get £140 towards their electricity bill in the winter – but only certain families are eligible for the help.
Almost half (46.1%) of hard-up families are currently in "fuel poverty", but because they aren't claiming benefits, they don't qualify for the help.
If you're in fuel poverty, it means that your energy bill is above average, and paying this would push your income below the poverty line.
According to a report by the Committee on Fuel Poverty, these households will also see their energy bills increase by £19 a year to help foot the bill to give the warm home discount to other Brits.
This means these families will have to cough up a combined total of £28.5million a year – despite struggling to pay bills themselves.
It comes as households face crippling rises to their energy bills.
The energy price cap — which was brought in to limit how much consumers can be billed — was raised by £139 earlier this month.
But that's at least £400 more than many families on the lowest tariffs – leaving millions of Brits in the cold this winter as they can't afford to pay bills.
The Committee on Fuel Poverty said it was "extremely disappointed" that millions of Brits couldn't get the discount – and were paying more for others to get it.
It said it was "fundamentally unjust" and urged the government to give the warm home discount to "those most in need".
A government spokesperson said: "Protecting households’ bills across the UK is a key priority, which is why the Business Secretary has been clear that the energy price cap will remain in place this winter, and we are continuing to support vulnerable and low-income households further through initiatives such as winter fuel payments and cold weather payments.
"We have also already set out plans to extend the warm home discount until 2026, as well as increasing it to £150 to help an extra 780,000 households."
Other ways to get help with your energy bills
If you're not eligible to receive the warm home discount, there is other help available to lower your bills.
Here's other help on offer to help you pay your way:
Apply for a grant
Some suppliers have charitable trusts to help you pay off any arrears you might have.
British Gas, EDF and E.on are among the list of firms that offer cash to hard-up Brits.
Get in touch with your provider to see if they have a scheme you can apply to – and get help.
Winter fuel payments
You could get up to £300 off your fuel payments during the coldest months of the year with the annual tax-free benefit that’s available.
Eligible pensioners can receive annual one-off winter fuel payments from the government of between £100 and £300.
You’re eligible for the money if you were born on or before October 5, 1954 or you lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of September 21 to 27, 2020 – called the "qualifying week".
The winter fuel payments are made automatically for most people, usually in November or December, and you'll be sent a letter telling you how much you'll get and when exactly you can expect it.
The deadline to apply for this year has already passed as it was set for March 31, but you can apply for next years so long as you do so by March 31 2022.
Cold weather payments
Low income households can get £25 a week to help with energy bills during the winter thanks to the cold weather payment scheme.
You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is zero degrees celsius or below over the space of a week.
You must receive pension credit, income support, jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, or Universal Credit to be eligible.
Payments should automatically be made into your bank or building society account within 14 days of the cold spell being over, so you don't need to apply.
You’ll be able to check if your area is due a payment when next year’s scheme starts on November 1 this year so we’ll have more details on the scheme then and you'll be able to check if your postcode qualifies.
Welfare assistance scheme
Some councils run welfare assistance schemes, where Brits can get grants to help them buy food, furniture and pay for energy bills.
Each scheme is different depending on where you live – but some councils might not have one in place.
You can find your local council on the government's website, and ask for details on what support is available.
Household support fund
The government has launched a £500million Household Support Fund to help struggling families buy household essentials.
Households will be able to apply for the cash through their local councils, who will get the funds to dish out in October.
To find out who your local council is in order to put in a claim, head to gov.uk's local council finder tool.
If information about the scheme is not yet listed on your local authority's website, it's best to ring or email for more information.
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