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Energy Advice Line welcomes extra help for pensioners
The Energy Advice Line has welcomed a government move to help an extra 200,000 pensioners pay to heat their homes this winter.
But Julian Morgan, managing director of the price comparison, switching and advice service, warned that the elderly and other vulnerable consumers would still need to shop around for good deals to prevent the payments being swallowed up by high tariffs
The Government has announced that the Warm Home Discount Scheme paid for by energy companies and now worth £140 per household, will be expanded to include everyone who receives the Pension Credit Guarantee.
"This is a welcome move to reduce the number of financially vulnerable people who went cold last winter because they couldn't afford to turn the heating on, " Mr Morgan said.
"But those eligible for the benefit need to be very careful if they are going to make the most of it, and not see it swallowed up by high energy prices.
"If they pay more than they need to for their energy, that £140 benefit won't amount to much over the course of a cold winter.
"Shopping around for the best deals in the first place is the only way to make the most of this payment and to ensure that they are not paying more than absolutely necessary to keep warm."
Pensioner groups have welcomed the announcement by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), but some have expressed concern that many vulnerable people who do not claim the Pension Credit will miss out on the payments.
Mr Morgan said the Energy Advice Line could help households on low incomes to determine whether they are eligible for the discount, which is applied directly by the energy companies.
DWP figure show that although 1.7 million pensioners will now be able to claim the discount, only 1.4 million are expected to take it up.
"The Energy Advice Line is more than just a price comparison and switching service," Mr Morgan said.
"We help all our customers search for the cheapest deals quickly and easily, but our experts are also there to give advice.
"We can help customers find out if they are eligible for the discount – the criteria can vary between suppliers – and then find the cheapest energy deal to ensure they are making the most of that benefit.
"No-one should be forced to go cold because they can't afford to pay for heating, or because they can't negotiate the complexities of shopping around and switching suppliers. We're here to help and our service is free."
The Energy Advice Line is the UK's leading impartial comparison, switching and advice service for businesses and householders. It actively campaigns for reform of the UK's energy market to boost competition, get consumers a better deal from suppliers and lower energy prices.
The Energy Advice Line's price comparison and switching service is free and completely impartial. Consumers can obtain energy quotes with a few computer strokes based on a diverse panel of energy suppliers including the major players and smaller independent utility companies.