Energy bills may be starting to come down, or at least rising less rapidly, but they’re likely to remain high. Indeed, one energy boss has warned that prices could spike this winter.

But help is available in the form of the year-long Energy Bills Discount Scheme (EBDS), which came into force on 26 April and which applies to bills from April 1 this year. It runs until 31 March 2024, so you need to claim this money if you are eligible.

In a nutshell, the scheme applies to ‘heat networks’, or building owners who supply heat to domestic customers. In other words, in some blocks of residential flats, communal heating systems or boilers provide warmth to all the units in the building. This means that there is just one billing account – for the building owner, who then has to pass this cost on to those living in the bloc’s flats.

The EBDS, launched under the Energy Prices Act of last year, replaces the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, which ran between 1 October 2022 and 31 March this year.

In fact, it’s actually a legal requirement that if you have a heat network with domestic customers in this way, you need to apply for this support by 25 July – and pass on the resulting benefits to those who use the energy.

Put differently, you have 90 days from 26 April to apply for this support, while newly formed or eligible organisations have 90 days to submit their application from the date when they qualify for it. Bills have to be paid as normal until the discount kicks in.

What’s more, if you don’t apply for the scheme you could face enforcement action. And if a heat supplier doesn’t complete any corrective action they’re asked to undertake, they could also be slapped with a stiff fine of up to £5,000.

Heat suppliers qualify for this support if their network:

  • Supplies hot water or heating to someone in that block
  • Receives this energy from a licensed supplier
  • Supplies at least one domestic customer
  • Uses electricity or gas to produce warmth for consumers

Applying for the scheme

The heat supplier has responsibility for supplying and charging for the heating and hot water the network supplies. (More often than not, this will be the organisation holding a heat supply contract or equivalent with the consumer.)

Heat suppliers can be housing associations, energy services companies, or landlords who bill their tenants for heat via a service charge. The official guidance on the scheme includes more information on eligibility.

The government’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has a heat networks team, which has said:

“We urge all heat suppliers to apply as soon as possible so discounts can be passed on to consumers promptly.

“We also understand that heat suppliers with multiple heat networks may be waiting for a bulk upload functionality to be added to the application portal. We hope this will be operational by mid-July. For suppliers who haven’t applied by then, we’ll consider the total number of heat networks operated before we take any enforcement action.”

Oakfield says

At Oakfield Estate Agents, we provide block management services for a couple of buildings with this kind of heat network arrangement in place, plus we’re aware that there are many others out there.

Applying for the EDBS doesn’t have to be a complicated business, and, remember, it’s the law. Talk to us if you run a heat network and have any queries about the scheme – we’ll be glad to help and answer any questions you may have, so that you apply for this programme successfully and on time, and meet your legal requirements.

If you would like to know more about the scheme for your building we would be more than happy to assist, get in touch via our website