Why are £27 million worth of Energy Support Scheme vouchers for those on old-style prepayment meters going unclaimed?
Financial and emotional overwhelm, as well as systemic failures are likely to play a part.
Times are tight and it is worrying that those on the lowest income are not taking up financial help on offer. Prepayment meters are often used in households that have low incomes or are in debt and need flexibility managing their finances.
By now, the first and second vouchers, each worth £66, should have been received. The vouchers originally had 90 days from the point of issue to be claimed. This has since been updated by the Minister for Climate, Graham Stuart, who said people can request a replacement from their supplier until 30th June 2023, if the vouchers expire before they are used.
As a not-for-profit supporting those on a low income with money and related issues, Clean Slate is able to offer insights based on data from its services and feedback from staff and clients as well as national data.
A Clean Slate investigation has revealed two key factors are at play:
1. Overwhelm and misunderstanding
2. Failure in systems and communication
Jeff Mitchell, Founder and Managing Director of Clean Slate and Quids in! said: “It’s good to see some added flexibility and we’ll be encouraging consumers to speak up if they’re worried about missing out. This is not easy for many people on low incomes. It is essential that those on old-style prepayment meters and most in need of support with energy bills are not disadvantaged further.
“Complicated and inadequate systems fail to take into account how overwhelming things are and the lower levels of financial confidence that frequently come with managing life on a very low income.”