BENEFITS EXPERT: The facts determining if your home has ‘high energy costs’
We have previously advised readers about the number of support packages the government have made available due to the cost of living increases as well as support for the ever increasing price of electricity and gas.
One such change was to the Warm Home Discount and changes in eligibility for what was referred to as the Broader Group.
In summary the Broader Group will no longer need to apply to their supplier for the payment. Payment will be considered if you receive Income Support, Income Based JSA, Income Based ESA, Pension Credit (Savings only), Housing Benefit, Universal Credit, Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits.
The second condition was your home must have “high energy costs” and at the time of the announcement of the new scheme there was no definition of what this meant.
We now understand that this information will be provided from data from The Valuations Office Agency (a government department).
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Three facts will be used to determine if your house meets this definition of high energy costs.
Firstly, is the floor area of your home, larger properties need more energy for heat and other utilities.
The age of your home, older builds are less likely to have utilised energy saving measures for example older homes typically don’t have a gap for cavity wall insulation whereas new builds must meet energy efficiency standards and would thus use less fuel.
The final fact is to see if the property is detached or semi-detached or a flat with other flats above or below.
Again if your property has one or more walls exposed to the outside, heat will pass through whereas if the house is sandwiched between two properties you may benefit from heat from your neighbours.
Obviously this definition won’t take into account the circumstances of individual households such as number of occupants, more people would typically mean higher usage, some households may have higher energy costs due to the health of one or more occupants.
So it may be possible for people to receive the payment but be a low user of energy or for someone to not qualify as they live in a new build and their house is on the small side but use more energy due to their individual circumstances such as poor health, a new baby, etc.