Vulnerable customers benefited from over £348m of support from suppliers last winter through the Warm Home Discount (WHD), Ofgem reveals in the scheme’s annual report.
The WHD is a government scheme administered by Ofgem, which requires larger and medium-sized suppliers to provide support to customers living in fuel poverty.
The scheme was introduced by the government in 2011 and since then, suppliers have provided £2.7 billion in total of support to vulnerable consumers. According to Ofgem, this figure has increased year on year, partly in line with inflation and also due to more suppliers being obliged to participate as small suppliers grow.
Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem, commented: “For the last nine years, the Warm Home Discount scheme has provided a lifeline to some of the most vulnerable in our society who struggle to heat and light their homes during the winter in particular.
“Ofgem will continue to work closely with government and suppliers to ensure that consumers get the support they need in the difficult months ahead as we help to build a fairer, greener energy system.”
Last winter, all 19 obligated suppliers met their scheme obligations in full. British Gas paid out the most due to having the largest number of vulnerable customers and the largest share of the obligation.
A record amount – 96% – of £140 rebates on energy accounts to low income pensioners in the “core group” were provided automatically.
According to Ofgem, this is due to improved data sharing between suppliers and the Department of Work and Pensions to identify those eligible to receive the rebate.
On Monday, the government confirmed it was extending the WHD, which had been due to expire in March next year, until 2026.
Ofgem expects more customers to be eligible to receive support under the WHD this winter due to the economic and health impacts of COVID-19.
Kwasi Kwarteng, energy minister, added: “The Warm Home Discount has already helped millions of vulnerable customers and through our commitment to extend the scheme in the Energy White Paper, we will continue helping those most in need with paying their energy bills.
“We have committed to extending the Warm Home Discount to 2026, and from 2022 it will already be reaching nearly three million people, providing £475 million a year for those who need it most.”