Many customers with non-smart prepayment meters have not yet cashed in vouchers to help with bills

Many customers with prepayment meters have not yet redeemed vouchers to help with energy bills.

From last month, households should have begun to receive the first £400 instalment of the government’s Energy Bill Support Scheme.

The Post Office, the UK’s biggest voucher processor, said only 60% of those eligible had redeemed the credits so far, which are valid for 90 days.

Consumers are being urged to use the credit as soon as possible.

It is hard to pinpoint why people have not claimed, although many people on money saving websites have complained of delays in receiving the vouchers.

The Energy Bill Support Scheme was first announced by government in May and applies across England, Scotland and Wales.

Under the scheme, everyone’s energy bill will be cut by £400. This will be applied over six months, with a reduction of £66 in October and November, and £67 every month between December and March 2023.

For customers who have a traditional prepayment meter, which requires topping up via a key or card in a local newsagent or Post Office, the help with energy bills comes in the form of a voucher.

The Post Office urged those that had forgotten to claim their October discount to bring the voucher with them when claiming November’s discount.

The vouchers, which suppliers are sending out by post, email or text, can also be redeemed with the Post Office and at PayPoint stores.

More than four million people have a prepayment meter, and around half of those are the older, non-smart type of meter, according to the energy watchdog Ofgem.

How will I receive my payment?

Fixed monthly direct debit: Some providers will deduct £66 or £67 from each monthly bill, meaning you may pay slightly less or could adjust your payments to build up credit for the winter months. Others will refund the money back to your bank account after you’ve made your monthly payment.

Monthly bills based on what you use: Some providers will knock £66 or £67 off your bill, effectively as a discount. Others are applying the £66 or £67 as credit, which will likewise reduce the total bill.

Smart prepayment meter: Suppliers will add credit automatically to your meter. Most major suppliers say this is done in the first week of the month.

Traditional prepayment meter, topped-up at a shop: For these customers, vouchers will be sent in the post by all the main suppliers. The vouchers are redeemable at Post Office or PayPoint stores, where customers usually top up. For most suppliers, the voucher should arrive in the post by 17th of each month and is only valid for 90 days.