Published: 10/02/2022
  • As many as 1.2 million over 66-year-olds who could be eligible for Pension Credit are missing out on vital financial support on their energy bills 
  • Potentially more than 200,000 elderly customers will not benefit from the Warm Homes Discount due to being with an energy supplier which isn’t signed up to the scheme or has limited capacity 
  • 58% of over 65s are worried cold weather will lead to higher energy bills

26 January 2022 – An estimated 1.2 million pensioners are potentially missing out on £140 discount on their energy bills from the Warm Home Discount (WHD) scheme, according to research from comparethemarket.com.  

The WHD scheme requires participating domestic energy suppliers to provide support to those who are in, or at risk of, fuel poverty. According to figures from Ofgem, over a million (1,028,519) people in this core group, which includes people on pension credit, were provided with the rebate last year. However, statistics from the Department of Work and Pensions show that more than 1.2 million (1,212,978) over 66-year-olds are receiving Pension Credit and are therefore eligible for the discount. This suggests more than 200,000 people are with suppliers who are not signed up to the scheme or have over-filled capacity.  

Furthermore, the Government estimates that one million pensioners may be entitled to Pension Credit but do not claim it, meaning that millions of pensioners on low incomes could be missing out on vital discounts at a time when energy prices are significantly increasing. 

The WHD is available to people who either get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit - known as the ‘core group’ - or if you’re on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme - known as the ‘broader group’. 

Cold weather and rising energy prices are placing a significant financial burden on elderly people. According to research by comparethemarket.com, nearly six in 10 (58%) over 65-year-olds are worried that colder weather will lead to higher energy bills – equating to 6.8 million people nationwide*. On average those over the age of 65 say that their energy bills would only have to rise by £95 per year to cause them financial difficulty. The sharp rise in gas prices towards the end of 2021 may however likely cause the energy price cap to be raised by hundreds of pounds in April 2022.  

Given the uncertainty in the energy market, it may not currently be cost effective for customers to switch to another fixed tariff when their current deal comes to an end. Customers at comparethemarket.com can set up an automatic energy savings alert which helps to do the legwork. This service provides regular alerts when cheaper energy tariffs become available to them, as well as sending notifications when a household’s fixed deal is about to expire.

Alex Hasty, associate director at comparethemarket.com, said:             

“As we move further into winter, it is very worrying to see that nearly a quarter of a million people are missing out on crucial support, despite being eligible. During a time when energy costs are significantly rising, the imminent price cap hike next month is likely to lack the necessary safety buffer against soaring fuel prices. We urge those eligible for the WHD to apply, and for the Government to consider expanding this to help relieve some of the significant pressure the energy crisis has placed on numerous elderly households.  

“While volatility persists in the energy market, it may not currently be cost effective to switch to a fixed rate tariff when your deal comes to an end but using our online energy savings alert to keep on top of available deals is a good way to ensure you can save money when competition returns.” 

Notes to editors

Estimated 1 million pensioners missing out on pension credit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pension-credit-toolkit/pension-credit-toolkit-advice-and-guidance-for-stakeholders  

1,028,519 received WHD in FY 21: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/system/files/docs/2018/12/whd_sy7_annual_report.pdf  

1,212,978 on Pension Credit with guaranteed: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/  

*6.8 million figure calculated via ONS: Overview of the UK population: there are 11.8 million people aged 66 and over in the UK and percentages are calculated from this base number 

Censuswide survey on behalf of comparethemarket.com of 2,129 UK adults between 15th to 17th October 2021. 

About comparethemarket.com  

comparethemarket.com was launched in 2006 and has grown rapidly over the past fifteen years to become one of the UK’s leading price comparison websites. 

comparethemarket.com provides customers with an easy way to make the right choice for them on a wide range of products including motor, home, life, travel and pet insurance as well as utilities and money products such as credit cards and loans. 

comparethemarket.com actively works with its brand partners to help provide great services to customers. 

comparethemarket.com is a trading name of Compare The Market Limited. Registered in England No. 10636682. Registered Office: Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough, PE2 6YS. Compare The Market Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for insurance distribution (Firm Reference Number: 778488). Energy and Digital products are not regulated by the FCA.