Farmers could lose out on the UK government’s new £400 energy bills discount unless the rules are changed.
This is because farmhouses are often supplied by energy contracted under a business tariff rather than a domestic one.
The Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA) fears this arrangement will exclude its members and others from accessing the new energy bills support scheme, which will kick in in October.
The organisation is running a survey to allow it to understand how many farmhouses have their energy supply on a business tariff.
“Nearly everybody who has responded is on a business or mixed tariff,’’ said TFA chief executive George Dunn.
The TFA is urging the government to review the application criteria and has already started those discussions with the Treasury, Defra and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
“We have been told that there are a number of categories of individuals who may not automatically qualify for the support scheme, and the government is looking at ways to address this,’’ said Mr Dunn.
Tenant farmers whose main household residence is part of their wider farm business fall into this group, he points out.
“One solution appears to be emerging for situations where, notwithstanding the energy being supplied on a business tariff, individuals have a domestic energy meter in their dwelling,’’ said Mr Dunn.
“The government is looking at ensuring that such individuals are automatically eligible for the scheme and alternative solutions are being looked at for those who do not have a domestic energy meter.’
“We have had no pushback on this,’’ said Mr Dunn.
The TFA is urging members to complete the survey online.
The £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme discount is intended as a source of financial support to help bill payers meet the cost of energy in the winter months.
It will be administered directly by energy suppliers and paid automatically to consumers over six monthly instalments.
The government estimates that about 29m households will qualify for the support.