Energy bill warning as hard-up households miss out on £400 vouchers – what to do if you’re waiting for payments | The Sun

THOUSANDS of hard-up households are missing out on free cash to help pay for energy bills as vouchers go unredeemed.

In May, the government announced millions of households would receive £400 to help with their energy bills this winter.

The £400 payment is being split into six monthly instalments between October this year and March, 2023.

The first two payments were worth £66 and the remaining four are worth £67.

For the majority of energy customers their monthly bills are being automatically discounted.

However, households with traditional pre-payment meters are being sent vouchers to redeem at their nearest top-up point instead.

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But new figures from the Department for Business, Energy Industrial Strategy reveal a third of the total vouchers sent to these customers still haven't been redeemed.

It's not clear at this point why they are not being redeemed.

But it's likely some vouchers have not arrived, some people will not have seen them or realised what they were, or that others are concerned they might be a scam.

On ITV's Good Morning Britain today (December 20), Grant Shapps, the business and energy secretary, accused some energy suppliers of not picking up the phone when customers called to find out where their vouchers were.

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“What concerns me is that gap between vouchers being sent out and people finding the voucher,” he told the programme.

“There isn’t one way that this is done because the energy providers are sending them out in different ways, sometimes by text, sometimes by email, sometimes through the door.”

A spokesperson for Energy UK, which represents industry, said suppliers were doing "everything possible" to ensure vouchers were reaching customers.

They added: "The energy industry has also been looking to raise awareness of the support available and encouraging customers to redeem the vouchers by working with outlets like the Post Office and Paypoint as well as consumer groups like Citizens Advice."

Meanwhile, Gillian Cooper, head of energy policy for Citizens Advice, said the organisation was "worried" so many on pre-payment meters were missing out on the vouchers.

It comes as a number of bodies, including Citizens Advice, Which? and Martin Lewis' signed a joint letter to energy firms calling for them to ensure customers can access the £400 rebate.

Sue Davies, from Which?, said: "It's hugely concerning that a third of the Energy Bill Support Scheme vouchers sent to traditional prepayment customers still haven't been redeemed – even as the weather has turned colder.

“Energy firms and the government must urgently investigate why so many customers have not yet accessed the government support available and stop at nothing to ensure that all customers on these prepayment meters – who are more likely to be vulnerable and on lower incomes – are able to access this vital support without further delay."

What can you do if you've not been able to redeem your vouchers?

If you're on a prepayment meter and have not yet received your vouchers, you should contact your supplier to find out where they are.

But they should have been sent by text, email or post and in most cases are valid for three months.

All vouchers will expire by June 30, 2023.

If you have received your vouchers and you don't know how to redeem them, again you can check with your supplier.

However, in most cases you'll need to take them to your usual top-up point.

This will be either a Post Office branch or PayPoint.

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You might need need a photo ID to claim them, so it's worth taking a driver's licence or passport along with you.

Again, if you're not sure on how to redeem the vouchers, your supplier should explain to you how.

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