RESIDENTS in Swindon may be struggling with energy bill hikes, but retired caterer Jean Messenger wants to tell others about a new Government scheme which can help cut costs.

Mrs Messenger, 73, of Upper Stratton, will benefit this winter from the Warm Home Discount, which provides a £120 rebate on electricity bills for eligible needy people.

She discovered the scheme last month when she called her energy supplier, Southern Electric, about another issue and she has since told all her friends.

She even contacted the Adver after the newspaper revealed last week that some older people in Swindon are being forced into debt by energy bill hikes.

Mrs Messenger said: “I think it’s a good thing, but I just wish more people knew about it. It’s not publicised enough.

“The person I spoke to at Southern Electric said ‘Tell your friends’ so I did and some of them phoned up and they’ve got it.

“I think it’s a big help. Obviously, electricity had all gone up and I’m a person on my own and I have to pay the same costs as everyone else and with just my money.”

The Warm Home Discount scheme was brought in to mainly help the poorest pensioners and other vulnerable households. It is in addition to the Winter Fuel Payment.

The scheme, which will run for four years, requires participating energy companies to give a discount on electricity bills to a specified core group before the end of the financial year. Eligible people will be contacted in the coming months and the Government expects the payments to be made in about December.

Eligibility for the core group is linked specifically to the type of benefits received and for this year the rebate will be provided to pensioners or their partners who pay their own bills and are in receipt of pension Credit Guarantee Credit.

People will not qualify if they only get the savings credit element of pension credit. Additionally, in order to qualify, a person’s electricity provider must be participating in this scheme and their name or partner’s name must be on the bill.

Mrs Messenger, a widow, who used to work at Boswells Café in The Brunel, and also as a waitress at the County Ground, said her monthly electricity bill had increased from £28 to £36 this year.

“I think they make a lot of money and I don’t agree with the increases, but we don’t have a say on the matter, we have got to pay it,” she said.

“I don’t like the increases. I don’t work, I’m 73. I’m like everybody else, I have got to find the money. I haven’t had my heating on at all yet this year and I don’t put my electricity on unless I really have to.”

Commenting on the energy bill hikes, she said: “They are a big impact on pensioners. Some people get married couples’ allowance, some people get single people’s allowance and some get a bit more help than others.

“But I think it has a big impact on pensioners, and we don’t get a lot of money.”