Citizens Advice response to BEIS’s Warm Home Discount Scheme 2021 to 2022 consultation
Given the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, we support the proposals to extend the Warm Home Discount into 2021/22 in a relatively unchanged form. However, in some areas we have concerns, particularly the proposal not to reduce the supplier participation thresholds. This will lead to consumers continuing to miss out on rebates.
We also note the ongoing and growing gap between eligibility and provision for the Broader Group means that many families will miss out on support. This is likely to lead to more people struggling to pay their energy bills, and to more people stuck in cold, dark homes. During the pandemic, the government should continue to develop additional policies that ensure that low income households are supported to stay on supply and to pay their energy bills.
From 2022 onwards, we strongly urge the government to carry out the now overdue reform of the scheme. This reform should ensure all rebates are provided automatically and by all suppliers, resulting in:
reduced administrative burden of applications for customers, advice providers/charities and suppliers
lower barriers to switching for eligible customers
a level playing field for suppliers
This reform should also address the gap in support for low income, vulnerable working age households, including whether more money is needed to support customers. It should also consider how the scheme can ensure a fair transition to net zero by protecting these groups from additional costs, and be clearer on how it can best complement other policies like the price cap and Energy Companies Obligation (and any successors to these).