The Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS) provides a discount on energy bills of £400 for most households in Great Britain. This scheme is being delivered through domestic electricity suppliers in six instalments from October 2022 to March 2023. However, there are a number of households who pay for their electricity in a different way, such as through a commercial intermediary, and so will not have received support through EBSS. The Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding (EBSS Alternative Funding) has been set up by the Government to provide the payment to these households/residents.
The EBSS Alternative Funding is a one-off £400 non-repayable discount to eligible households/residents who have not received the main EBSS payment automatically to help with their energy bills between 1 October 2022 and 31 March 2023, but are still facing increased energy costs. This is a Government led scheme and individuals will need to apply for the EBSS Alternative Funding via a Gov.UK portal. Local authorities will be responsible for distributing support payments to eligible applicants.
The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) expects eligible households/residents to include those with a commercial landlord or intermediary, such as park home residents and some housing association tenants. The EBSS Alternative Funding is expected to reach a significant number of vulnerable people, including self-funding residents in care homes. DESNZ is expecting approximately 900,000 households in Great Britain (around 3%) to be eligible for EBSS Alternative Funding and for Cornwall this equates to a projected 11,000 claims.
The scheme goes live on Monday 27th February 2023, with all applications having to be made by 31st May 2023 and final payments made by the local authority by 30th June 2023.
|Scheme ‘go live’
|27 February 2023
|Scheme closes to new applications
|31 May 2023
|Final date for payments to be posted in the local authority financial system
|30 June 2023
|Final date for payments to be defrayed from the local authority bank account
|7 July 2023
|Final date for scheme reconciliation data to be sent by a local authority to DESNZ
|31 July 2023
The EBSS Alternative Funding will be administered by the Assessment, Billing and Collection (ABC) Team that sits within the Customer and Business Operations Service led by Mark Read. Despite this time of year being the busiest time of the year for ABC due to the end of the financial year and start of the new one where the housing benefit notification letters and council tax and business rate bills are sent out, resources have been mobilised to work on the applications as they are received from 27th February 2023 (NB: currently we are currently waiting licenses so our resources can actually access the Government system from which they can process applications).
Whilst there is an initial verification phase carried out by the Government before applications are forwarded to the Council, the ABC team will need to carry out further residency checks using council tax records and information from the Care & Wellbeing Team (for care home resident applications) as part of the pre payment assurance process. Once verified we will pay residents direct into their bank, a process which will be carried out initially twice a week so we can pay as many residents as quickly as possible. The Governments expectation is that all eligible applicants will be paid within 30 days of applying and our working assumption is that we will see a large number of applications in the initial two weeks therefore clearing these will be a priority.
Whilst the Government have confirmed that they will lead on national communications to promote the scheme, they have now asked that local authorities provide additional communications locally to ensure those they believe are eligible, receive the payment.
There is a website page on the Cornwall Council website where information will be provided along with a link to the Central Government site containing the application form, in addition the Councils Comms team are working on other suitable local comms including the Councils resident + Town & Parish newsletters. The ABC Team are also liaising with colleagues in the Care & Wellbeing Directorate regarding care home residents.
The Government have also confirmed that they are providing a dedicated phone line for applicants to call if they have questions etc, we are also anticipating calls through to our contact centre, therefore guidance has been sent staff to ensure residents are directed towards the correct process for claiming. The Government have confirmed that there is no process for claiming other than online.
Where support payments have been provided to eligible recipients local authorities will be reimbursed fully. New burdens funding will also be provided to LA’s to cover expected reasonable additional costs associated with the implementation of the scheme. Currently CC has been provided with 80% of the expected cost of the scheme which has been estimated at £4,376,000 (the 2nd biggest allocation in the UK).
To be eligible for EBSS Alternative Funding applicants must meet the following criteria:
- The dwelling for which support is being claimed is the main or sole residential address of the applicant
- The applicant or resident is responsible for paying for energy used in the dwelling as part of a service charge, rent or other arrangement, and may, through these charges increasing have the impact of increased energy bills costs passed on to them between 1 October 2022 and 31 March 2023
- The household is not already receiving EBSS payments, either through the main EBSS scheme or the EBSS Alternative Funding, in whole or in part
- The household dwelling is not a business premises or other form of non-domestic premises, is used wholly or mainly for domestic purposes, with the exception of businesses whose main business activity is to provide long term residential accommodation (landlords, care homes etc)
- park home residents
- housing association, social and private tenants, and leaseholders, supplied via a landlord with a commercial meter
- partly and wholly self-funded care home residents
- households in house boats on residential moorings
- households on a private electricity network, for example those supplied by a heat network
- off-grid households
- traveller households on authorised sites
- households who live in a dwelling on business premises that is used wholly or partly for domestic purposes
- households in temporary/supported accommodation