The lucky customers being paid to use power this winter


While most of us fret about soaring energy costs this winter, one man isn’t worried.

Michael Portz pays just £38 a month at his brand new terraced flat in Beverley, East Yorkshire, where he lives alone.

On top of that, he receives the Government’s £66-a-month Energy Bills Support Scheme payment. This has been rolled out to households in the past few weeks regardless of income.

On the Energy Bills ­Support Scheme: Michael Portz pays just £38 a month at his brand new terraced flat in Beverley, East Yorkshire, where he lives alone

It means that he is actually being paid to use his electricity because the state-funded payment both wipes out his bill and leaves him £28 in credit monthly.

‘I feel very lucky, says Michael, 36. ‘I know a lot of people are really struggling at the moment. But my credit is ramping up nicely.’

And he is not the only one.

Money Mail has spoken to a number of households who are in a similar situation. This is either because they signed up to a long-term fixed deal when prices were still low before the crisis began last year.

Or, as in Michael’s case, they pay by usage or work hard to keep their consumption as low as possible.

This is also the case for Lynn Anderton, from the Wirral, who uses a pre-payment meter.

By the end of the month, she should have around £40 left from the rebate payment.

The life coach, 61, says: ‘I was really worried about my bills this winter, but once I got the payment I thought, “I’m going to win at this”.

‘I live alone and don’t consume much energy at all.

‘I often put my battery-powered fairy lights on instead of using the main lightbulbs, for example, so I can keep the costs down quite easily.’

The revelation will no doubt add fuel to the fire of criticism that the support scheme is not targeted enough at those who really need it.

The plan was drawn up back in May by now Prime Minister Rishi Sunak when he was serving as a Chancellor in Boris Johnson’s government.

In effect, households are given £400 in total from October through to April.

At the time, Mr Sunak said: ‘We have a collective responsibility to help those who are paying the highest price for the high inflation we face.’

It was announced prior to Liz Truss’s Energy Price Guarantee, which capped the average home bill at £2,500.

But Mr Sunak’s scheme has come under scrutiny because it means higher income households receive the same amount of support as the country’s poorest.

Gareth Kloet, energy spokesman for GoCompare, says: ‘This is a great example of how a blanket approach is not that helpful in sending money to the most needy.

‘The new Government will be looking at these issues carefully.’

Indeed, in May Mr Sunak said he would donate his own £400 to good causes and urged other wealthy families to do the same.

The Government¿s Winter Fuel Payment gives individuals between £250 and £600 to help with their heating bills. Anyone born on or before September 25, 1956, is eligible

The Government’s Winter Fuel Payment gives individuals between £250 and £600 to help with their heating bills. Anyone born on or before September 25, 1956, is eligible

He said at the time: ‘You can also give that money to charity if you don’t need it.’

And some people appear to have taken his word to heart.

A food bank in Peeblesshire, Scotland, took to social media last week to thank a number of customers who had donated their government rebate to them.

The organisation wrote: ‘We’ve been approached by several incredible local people recently who have told us they are keen to share their £400 fuel top-up from the Government with those who are struggling.

‘We are absolutely blown away by the generosity of the community we call home, and are immensely grateful. However, please don’t do this unless you are warm and comfortable yourself!’

Money Mail spoke to one reader who called for energy firms to make it easier to donate the payment to those who need it.

The Shell customer, who wishes to remain anonymous, is on a fixed-rate tariff which costs him just £48.75 a month.

It means he has £17.25 in credit at the end of each month after the rebate has been applied.

He says: ‘If there was a quick and easy button to press which would donate that money to charity, I would press it.

‘But without the option, you don’t really think about it and just take the credit.’

Some households will be entitled to even more support — leaving them with an even bigger surplus.

For example, the Government’s Winter Fuel Payment gives individuals between £250 and £600 to help with their heating bills.

Anyone born on or before September 25, 1956, is eligible. But there are fears that these households could face a huge shock when these payments and the Energy Price Guarantee come to an end in April.

At the same time, many of them could also come off their generous fixed deals.

Certainly, this is a fear for Michael Portz. He says: ‘It seems to be paying off for now but I am worried about the April cut-off.

‘I’m just trying to save up the money while I can to insulate myself from bigger bills in the future. At least it will get me through the winter.’

Meanwhile, Lynn Anderton adds: ‘I am putting the savings I make now away for the rest of the year when things could be worse.’

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy says: ‘The Government’s Energy Price Guarantee will save the typical household around £700 this winter, based on what energy prices would have been under the current price cap — reducing bills by roughly a third. This comes in addition to £1,200 direct payments to vulnerable households.

‘A Treasury-led review will consider how to support households from April 2023, focusing support for those in need while reducing costs for the taxpayer.’

h.kelly@dailymail.co.uk

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