Disabled woman denied vital energy bill support as ‘home is too small’

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A woman who rarely leaves her house due to health problems is furious after learning she will no longer receive government support for her energy bills as her home is too small.

Following a system shake-up, Karen Evans will no longer receive the £150 Warm Home Discount to help with energy bills this winter.

Some people in smaller homes no longer qualify for the discount, with the government instead choosing to focus on older, bigger homes, which are generally harder to keep warm.

However, the eligibility criteria changes come at a time when low-earners, the disabled, and those on benefits need support more than ever, reports Birmingham Live.

Ms Evans, who lives in a two-bedroom flat in Stourbridge in the West Midlands, labelled the move “disgusting”.

The 35-year-old rarely goes out because of her health problems, meaning she spends a lot of money heating her home.

Her partner is her full-time carer so they have to survive on benefits.

Ms Evans who has autism and other health issues, said: “I’ve always been eligible for the Warm Home Discount, it’s never been a problem.”

“I went on the app, and it kept saying I wasn’t eligible.

“I phoned the DWP, and they said, ‘your property is not big enough’. My gas and electricity is £165 for the month.

“Because I’m housebound, I have to have it on all the time, but it doesn’t matter because my property is not big enough, which is disgusting.

“A few years ago, they wanted us all to downsize. Everyone downsized, now they’re not giving it us.”

Older people who get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit get the Warm Home Discount automatically.

For low-earners, it depends on what benefits they receive and how much energy they use.

The government argues more people are actually getting the discount this winter because housing benefit is now included as part of the eligibility criteria.

But Ms Evans believes the changes unfairly punish those living in smaller properties and fail to take their circumstances into account.

“All these disabled people living in flats and benefits aren’t getting it,” she said. “A lot of these people are living in flats.”

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, which made the changes, said: “Our reforms mean that more households in fuel poverty will benefit from the Warm Home Discount than ever before.

“An extra 780,000 pensioners and low-income families will benefit this year compared to last, and it is awarded according to people’s financial circumstances.”

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