More than half a million households could no longer be eligible for the “winter lifeline” Warm Home Discount, charities have warned.
The Government is changing the targeting of the one-off payment – which has increased by £10 this winter to £150 – and is due to launch a new telephone service for households this week to check their eligibility.
The charities, National Energy Action (NEA) and Scope, said that 500,000 households across England and Wales are now ineligible for the discount because Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments are no longer qualifying benefits.
Some of those in smaller homes who were previously entitled to the assistance will also miss out.
Some billpayers are receiving letters from their supplier to check eligibility and a new helpline – 0800 731 0214 – is being launched.
Among the 2.8 million people who are eligible are pensioners who receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit and people on a low income who receive certain means-tested benefits and are in, or at risk of, fuel poverty.
The second of these groups has been reassessed and was part of a government consultation but charities said the results could leave thousands of people in serious difficulty.
NEA chief executive Adam Scorer said: “The Warm Home Discount is a winter lifeline. It is a vital part of the energy bill support schemes and yet over half a million low-income and vulnerable households who aren’t on benefits or who live in marginally smaller or newer homes will no longer receive the rebates.