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While a “record number” of households have so far taken up the Government’s energy payments, Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps is urging suppliers to do more to help vulnerable customers access support as new data reveals millions are still missing out. The vouchers, which are delivered through the energy bill rebate scheme, provide a total of £400 to help with energy costs this winter paid in monthly instalments.
As of the end of January, 76 percent of vouchers issued so far had been redeemed. While data shows that support reached more of these households during this month than at any other point since the scheme began, there is still more support to be claimed.
The Government is calling on suppliers to continue efforts to reach customers with unused vouchers, as around 1.9 million remain unredeemed.
Grant Shapps, Energy Security Secretary, said: “The help we’ve put in place means we are covering around half of most household’s energy bill this winter – this is an unprecedented level of support.
“With January temperatures having dropped to as low as -10 degrees in some parts of the country, I am pleased to announce today a record number of households taking up the government support.”
He continued: “But many households are yet to redeem the vouchers they are entitled to and I want energy companies to redouble their efforts to get the support to those who need it.”
While most customers receive the energy discount automatically each month they are eligible, people using a traditional prepayment meter receive it in the form of vouchers that need to be redeemed at a Post Office or PayPoint.
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However, suppliers have a responsibility to inform their prepayment meter customers how to access Government support using the vouchers and must make several attempts to contact people who haven’t redeemed them.
The electricity suppliers bearing the highest rates of voucher redemptions include E Gas & Electricity and Octopus, whose traditional prepayment meter (PPM) customers have redeemed up to 87 percent and 85 percent of their vouchers respectively.
The five suppliers with the largest number of prepayment meter customers, which include Centrica (British Gas), E.On, Ovo, EDF and Scottish Power, all showed an increased number of voucher redemptions, although some remained amongst those with the lowest rates overall.
Today’s numbers reveal over £7.2billion has now been provided to 98 percent of households across Great Britain through the EBSS but while voucher redemption has increased across all regions, some areas have been slower to take up support than others.
Numbers show the fewest households making use of support are in London (58 percent), Scotland (68 percent) and the Southeast of England (69 percent) – meaning many households are still missing out.
According to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Stategy, redemption rates in all other regions are now above 70 percent, although ministers are maintaining calls for communities, local leaders and suppliers to “make sure” households using traditional prepayment meters are aware of the support and how to access it.
Commenting on the unredeemed vouchers, Gillian Cooper, head of energy policy at Citizens Advice, said: “At a time when energy bills are extremely high, it’s vital people are getting all the support they’re entitled to.
“We’re worried that people on prepayment meters – who are at risk of being left in cold, dark homes if they don’t top up – could be missing out on their vouchers.
“If anyone has not received their voucher or isn’t sure how to redeem them, they should contact their energy supplier for support.”
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