The Energy Bill Support Scheme (Alternative Funding) has now officially closed, leaving many thousands – including some park home owners – without their £400 grant. We find out what a senior Scottish MP thinks…
A Government initiative that aimed to plug the gap for those, like park home owners, who originally missed out on last winter’s £400 energy bill subsidy has been branded a ‘staggering failure’ by a prominent MP.
Angus MacNeil, an independent MP for for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, which covers the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, said The Energy Bill Support Scheme (Alternative Funding) had almost completely ‘missed the most vulnerable’.
Nearly a million households could apply but only a fraction received the money. The Government said it had spent more than £50m supporting 130,000 households without a domestic energy supplier.
All UK households were eligible for the £400 help with fuel bills, after energy prices rose sharply last year. For households who pay their bills by direct debit, the support was given automatically through monthly payments from October to March. But people who live off-grid, like many thousands in park homes, did not automatically receive the support, because they did not have an energy provider.
The Government set up the Alternative Funding Scheme for the 900,000 households who initially missed out. But only 141,000 bill payers managed to apply for and receive the subsidy before the scheme closed on 31 May. There remain 750,000 eligible households who have missed out on the £400 payment.
Mr MacNeil said the scheme should be improved and extended so that people could claim the subsidy they were entitled to. He added: ‘A lot of these will be vulnerable people who are particularly suffering the bite of the energy price spike and Government should be moving heaven and earth almost, to make sure these people are getting the money.’
In his role as chair of the parliamentary committee, Mr MacNeil is due to question Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Grant Shapps in October. Mr MacNeil said he would ask him to relaunch the scheme and make it easier to use, since ‘clearly delivery has failed’.
In the meantime, on 19 July, Park Home Owners’ Justice Campaign president Sir Peter Bottomley tabled three questions to the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero about the poor take up of the Energy Bills Support Scheme (Alternative Funding). Sir Peter should get a response after the parliamentary summer recess.