Energy crisis hits poorest due to failed voucher system, says Footprint Trust

Thousands of the Isle of Wight’s most vulnerable residents could be left without electricity after the much-heralded energy bill support scheme failed to help many of those using prepaid meters .

The £400 cut on household energy bills came into effect in October.

Grant money is disbursed in several ways
This automatic and non-refundable discount should be applied in six installments between October 2022 and March 2023 to help households get through the winter. There is no need to apply for the scheme and you will not be asked for your bank details.

The grant money is paid out in a number of ways, in most cases being deducted from energy bills at source by the energy companies or paid into the customer’s bank account.

Vouchers for old prepaid card and key meters
However, those on the old prepaid card and key counters have vouchers mailed out. This is where the regime collapsed.

Nationwide, millions of pounds went ‘unclaimed’ as vouchers were blocked by the postal dispute or not sent at all.

In other cases, letters were ignored because households were unaware of how the program worked.

Only 60% of vouchers used
The Post Office, the UK’s largest voucher processor, said only 60% of eligible people had used the vouchers, the BBC reported.

Payments company PayPoint told the Evening Standard it plans to process 800,000 vouchers in October, worth a total of £52.8million, but the firm said only £27million had been exchanged so far.

Check your message
It is important that everyone on the prepaid meters checks their mail and then takes the voucher to their usual store to top up their meter.

In a few cases, bill payers have never informed an energy company that they have repossessed the premises and are using the former resident card. Thus the letter can be addressed to the previous occupant. In these cases, contact the energy supplier and update it.

Increase in prepaid meters
Nationally, the number of households using prepayment meters increased by 60,000 in the six months from October 2021.

It’s usually poorer households that use this prepayment system to help with budgeting, but it’s usually a more expensive way to buy energy.

Fraudulent messages
Scammers are also actively taking advantage of the public by sending fraudulent messages asking them to provide bank details when the energy price guarantee comes into effect.

Get in touch
People concerned about their energy bills should contact The Footprint Trust on 01983 822 282.

For questions about debt, benefits, tax matters etc. please contact IW Citizens Advice on 0800 144 8848.

In the event of non-payment of the energy bonus, contact your energy supplier.

News shared by Ray on behalf of Footprint Trust. Ed

Image: Kai Hendry under CC BY 2.0

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