Thousands more people eligible for up to £150 energy bill help – do you qualify?

STRUGGLING households can apply for extra help with their rocketing energy bills using the warm home discount scheme.

But now thousands more could be eligible for the £150 cash that's on the way.

The government has announced plans to expand the scheme to cover an additional 50,000 Scottish households per year.

That means over 280,000 vulnerable households in the northern tip of the UK, who also find themselves on a low income, will get extra help to pay their energy bills next winter.

It's on top of the 2million already eligible to receive the help throughout the rest of the UK- so anyone further down south won't miss out either.

The government announced the proposed expansion in a statement released yesterday.

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On top of the rising number of people becoming eligible, the consultation would also see the scheme extended by another year too.

That would mean eligible applicants could apply all the way through to 2026.

UK government Business and Energy Minister Lord Callanan said: "We recognise the pressures that people living in Scotland are facing with the cost of living.

"That is why we are expanding the warm home discount so those most in need are supported to heat their homes."

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What is the Warm Home Discount?

The warm home discount scheme is a one-off payment that goes towards your heating costs.

The discount is designed to bring down the costs of your energy bills with a direct amount that comes straight off your total.

It's usually paid straight to your energy supplier who then applies the reduction to your bills.

If you have a pre-payment meter, you'll be sent a voucher that you can use to top up your account.

Either way, it means you won't necessarily see the money as cold hard cash, but you will feel the benefit with a reduced energy bill in the harshest months.

Especially as energy bills are set to go up EVEN more by the time the scheme next rolls around.

They could go up another £600 should the price cap rise again in the autumn.

Applications for the warm home discount scheme aren't open at the moment though, because they usually run from October to March each year.

How much could I get?

The extra eligible applicants won't be the only thing revised in therevamped version of the scheme that's on its way later in the year.

The government will be expanding the scheme to give out more money than previous years too.

There's an extra £10 on offer in support, up from the £140 that has been offered in the past.

In total households could claim £150 under the revised scheme.

It doesn't come into play for another five months though, when applications reopen in October.

As many as three million households in total could be able to claim this time around.

But even as more households become eligible, they must be in receipt of Pension Credit, Guarantee Credit, or some working age benefits to qualify.

Is there any other help I could get?

The government has also announced that every single household will get a £200 discount on their energy bill this year.

It'll be applied automatically, but just like the warm home discount, not until at least October.

The only difference this time is that the money does have to be paid back, but it will be in the form of £40 added to annual bills over five years from next year.

The government is hoping the help will spread the worst of this year’s energy price shock over time.

Martin Lewis has explained how the scheme will work, but he's dubbed it more like a levy than a loan.

The Household Support Fund has had its own shakeup this year too.

It was doubled, with an extra £500million added to the pot, as the cost of living crisis continued.

With that money on offer, struggling families can apply to their local council for emergency grants, which are to help cover energy, as well as food, and water costs.

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To find out who your local council is in order to put in a claim, head to gov.uk's local council finder tool.

Later in the year applications will likely open for winter fuel payments and the cold weather payment scheme too.

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