More than half a million renters could be risk of not receiving their rebate (Photo: aquaArts studio via Getty Images)
The government’s £400 discount on energy bills might not be reaching all the people it is supposed to be, according to warnings from some charities.
With around 13% of private renters including energy bills in their rent, there is a chance these landlords will be able to hold onto the rebate – not the tenants it was meant for.
What is the £400 rebate?
This is money from the government to help ease the cost of living crisis as energy bills continue to climb to unprecedented levels.
It’s part of the Energy Bills Support Scheme, which will go to around 29 million households. It’s separate to the cost of living payment
Consultancy Cornwall Insight has forecast that the annual average household bill could reach £3,615 in January.
For comparison, it was £1,400 in October 2021. It has already risen by an average of £700 after the energy price cap was lifted in April.
The £400 is one of a raft of measures the government has unrolled to help England, Scotland and Wales with the crisis. Discussions are ongoing in Stormont about how to make the payments to households.
The money will arrive in six instalments to the bill payer, with a £66 discount for bills in October and November, and £67 a month from December to March next year.
If you pay by:
Direct debit, it will be automatically deducted from your bill
Standard credit, it will be automatically applied to your credit
Smart payment metre, there will be automatic top-ups on your account
Traditional payment metre, vouchers can be taken to the Post Office in exchange of cash.
What are landlords supposed to do?
With UK inflation reaching 9.4% in June, a 40-year-high, the government says it expects landlords to pass the £400 on to tenants.
Estimates suggest 585,000 households currently have their energy bills included in their rent.
Even if landlords ask tenants to pay a fixed cost for energy, or if they resell the electricity back to their tenants based on their usage, they are still not allowed to make a profit.
The National Residential Landlords Association said “they should be passing on the savings to their tenant in line with [the regulator] Ofgem’s requirements”.
However, Polly Neate, the chief executive of the housing charity Shelter, said these tenants will be “at the mercy of their landlord passing on this much-needed support”.
She pointed out there’s no specific legal obligation for them to pass on this support either.
“It is unfair that those at the very sharp end of this crisis could miss out on this much needed support.”
Generation Rent also tweeted: “A lot of landlords have already raised the rent to take account of higher energy bills and there’s no easy way for tenants to ask them to pass on the £400 grant if they don’t want to.”
And here’s how people have reacted online...
If your bills are included in your rent, the Treasury’s £400 energy bill rebate will go to your landlord, not you. Just like the 3 million people excluded from support during the pandemic, the Gov is accepting vulnerable people falling through the cracks.https://t.co/qpXBQGqUZF
— Owen Thompson MP 🎗 (@OwenThompson) August 3, 2022
People with multiple homes will get £400 energy rebate for each home they have. What a fucking shit policy.
— MC Hammock (@RobiMurf) July 29, 2022
Landlords should not be paid the £400 rebate; those resident in the property should be paid in full. This idea that landlords should pass on the funds, which they will not, is insane. https://t.co/u2la82yfsE
— Daniel Grainger (@DanielG453) August 3, 2022
Tenants who pay bills through their rent should not be a risk of 'falling through the cracks', potentially missing out on the £400 energy rebate. https://t.co/7AayAqXpst
— One25 (@One25Charity) August 3, 2022
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.