HOUSEHOLDS have just hours left to claim energy bill help vouchers before the deadline ends.
Customers have been urged to act before tomorrow, when energy bill vouchers expire – here’s what to do if you are affected.
We explain what to do if you’re struggling to cash in your voucher[/caption]
Every household gets a £400 discount on their bills this winter.
The help is paid in instalments over a six month period, which started in October and ended in March.
Customers received a £66 discount in October and November, which went to £67 each month from December, ending in March this year.
The discount is automatically taken off your bill, unless you’re on a traditional prepayment meter, where you’ll be sent vouchers via text, email or post to redeem.
These expire after 90 days, and according to Post Office estimates, £17million worth of vouchers are still left unclaimed.
Here’s who is affected, and what to do if you miss the deadline.
Who does this affect?
The Post Office works with British Gas , EDF, E.ON, E.ON Next, Good Energy and Bulb.
It sends vouchers out to customers on these companies’ behalf.
Vouchers are sent out in batches each month.
The last batch of vouchers was sent out in October was on Friday, October 14.
As vouchers expire after 90 days, it means that the deadline for claiming these is Saturday, January 14 – which is tomorrow.
However, some customers’ vouchers will have already expired if they were posted earlier than this date.
The expiry date for each voucher is printed on it – so check yours for your exact deadline.
Other energy companies are working with top-up processor PayPoint to get vouchers posted to customers – but the process works in a similar way.
What happens if I miss the deadline?
Don’t panic – missing the deadline doesn’t mean that you’ve lost your £66 forever.
Even if the deadline passes, you can still get your voucher for October re-sent to you if you didn’t claim, or receive, it.
You need to call your energy supplier to ask for a new one.
But you should claim your voucher sooner rather than later to avoid the admin stress – and to get the vital help quicker.
Make sure all your personal details are up-to-date.
Your voucher may have been sent to the wrong email address or phone number, for example.
Why are so many vouchers unclaimed?
The scheme has run into several issues dishing out vouchers to prepayment customers.
Last month, Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said 41% of all prepayment meter vouchers had not been redeemed.
National Energy Action chief executive Adam Scorcer said that customers may not know the scheme exists, have missed their letters or emails, or can’t print the voucher.
Royal Mail worker strikes have also caused delays in getting vouchers to households.
But The Sun has also seen scores of posts on social media from customers who have not received their vouchers yet from their supplier.
One angry customer said on social media: “I’m still fighting British Gas to get my energy vouchers I’m owed.”
While one Eon Next customer said they had “never” received vouchers from Eon despite “sending countless emails”.
Another said: “I am owed all the vouchers.”
While a Scottish Power customer posted: “I have not received one penny.”
Experts told The Sun that suppliers must act now to make sure customers get the help they need.
Which? director of policy and advocacy Rocio concha said the government and energy firms must “urgently investigate” why affected customers have not yet been able to access the government support.
Citizens Advice head of energy policy Gillian Cooper said: “Both the government and suppliers must make it a priority to fix any issues with people getting their vouchers.”
While End Fuel Poverty Coalition Simon Francis said: “People are desperate and are crying out for help on social media.
“The pain caused by the failed roll-out of the voucher programme is affecting thousands of people.”
Suppliers told The Sun that they are working hard to ensure that every customer gets their voucher, and for customers to contact them if they are having any issues.
Some suppliers, like Shell and Octopus, are making home visits to customers who haven’t cashed theirs in to make sure they get the help.