Post Office urges Rishi Sunak to utilise voucher scheme for cash grants and support

Warm Home Discount is ‘totally insignificant’ says couple

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The Post Office has made its ‘Payout’ service accessible to the Government and energy suppliers. Through the Post Office’s 11,000 branches across the UK, households should be able to get any hardship payments or discounts quickly through the ‘Payout’ service, especially if the Warm Home Discount is extended past its March deadline. It comes amid calls for additional support as households experience an unprecedented rise in what they are paying for their energy bills due to external pressures on the wholesale market and many suppliers falling into administration.

The Government has been promoting the various benefit schemes, such as Cold Weather Payments and the Warm Home Discount, to assist those who are struggling.

The Warm Home Discount is a £140 reduction on a claimant’s gas and energy costs which is not paid directly to them but taken off their final bills.

This unique benefit is primarily claimed by those who are on low income and is available between October and March.

In November and December of last year, the Post Office issued 215,000 Warm Home Discounts to customers of the UK’s top energy companies, including British Gas, E.On and Bulb.

Overall, the Post Office processes around 500,000 Warm Home Discounts in an average year.

The organisation’s ‘Payout’ service is a single voucher-based transaction which is sent by SMS text, email or letter to customers.

Consumers can redeem this voucher by showing the Postmaster the barcode. Those in receipt of an energy top-up voucher will receive a credit as part of their prepayment gas card or electric key.

Any customers who get a voucher via their local council or a charity can redeem the discount for cash.

As of December 31, 2021, the Post Office has experienced a 129 percent rise in the number of consumers compared to the same period the year before.

One in five consumers of a Post Office survey admitted that they were “very concerned” about paying for their household bills in 2022.

The majority of respondents, 56 percent, said they were overall concerned about making their payments this year.

Martin Kearsley, the Post Office’s banking and bill payments director, explained how the ‘Payout’ scheme will be an asset to the Government and households during this cornering time for many people.

Mr Kearsley said: “This is a worrying time for millions of families, individuals and older people when it comes to rising energy prices and how to pay to keep your home warm.

“Our ‘Payout’ voucher service is a quick and easy way for the energy companies in particular to give credits to their customers or for local councils to get cash payments out to their most vulnerable residents.

“We previously operated the voucher scheme at scale during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic on behalf of the banks and it works.

“Our ability to move cash around the country quickly is a national infrastructure asset and can be used to provide much needed support to people over this winter.”

For anyone concerned about their energy bill, the Post Office recommends that they contact their energy supplier directly or reach out to organisations, such as Citizens Advice.

Customers of the country’s major energy suppliers can pay bills or top up their pre-payment meters at Post Office’s 11,500 branches across the UK, including at Payzone kiosks which are commonly found in convenience stores.

Mr Kearsley added: “Postmasters and Payzone retailers keep their branches open long hours and weekends providing much needed face-to-face support for customers struggling with their energy bills and can point them to charities that are able to provide detailed advice and guidance on managing energy bills.”

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