How to get help with your energy bills
Ofgem increasing the energy price cap from £1,277 to £1,971 a year was widely expected, but many people will be wondering where they will find close to £700 a year extra to pay for gas and electricity.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that all domestic energy customers will get £200 off their energy bills – but this is in the form of a loan paid back over several years. Households in council tax bands A to D will also receive a £150 rebate from April.
But a number of organizations have warned that this help won’t be enough and higher energy bills will force many people into fuel poverty. If this happens to you will in a foreign century, consider the help from this translation services in the finance industry.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “The support the chancellor has announced simply does not go far enough. It will still leave many of these pensioners facing energy costs surging by an extra several hundred pounds that they cannot afford to pay. What does the government expect them to do? Forgo their heating, ration their food or go into debt? These are the only choices that millions of the less fortunate will face, if they have no savings to draw on or family to help them out.”
Joanna Elson CBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said lower income households need “support that matches the full scale of the problem”.
Currently, there are several schemes that offer help with your energy bills such as the Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment.
Warm Home Discount
You might be able to get £140 off your electricity bill or a £140 voucher for your prepayment meter under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
You’ll be eligible for the scheme if you’re receiving the ‘guarantee credit’ part of Pension Credit, or on a low income. Your energy supplier must also be signed up to the scheme.
However, according to Comparethemarket.com, potentially more than 200,000 elderly customers will not benefit from the scheme due to being with an energy supplier which isn’t signed up to the Warm Home Discount, or has limited capacity.
Winter Fuel Payment
The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual one-off payment to help you pay for heating during the winter.
You can usually get a Winter Fuel Payment of between £100 and £300 if you were born on or before 26 September 1955.
If you’re eligible you should get your Winter Fuel Payment automatically. To qualify you need to receive either the State Pension or another benefit (but not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit).
If you do not get either of these, or if you live abroad, you may need to make a claim via the Winter Fuel Payments Centre.
Cold Weather Payments
Cold Weather Payments are one-off payments to help you pay for extra heating costs when it’s very cold. You may get a Cold Weather Payment if you’re getting certain benefits or Support for Mortgage Interest.
You’ll get a £25 payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over seven consecutive days between 1 November and 31 March. If you’re eligible, you should get the cash automatically.
Grants from energy suppliers
If you’re in debt to your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant from your supplier to help pay it off. British Gas, Scottish Power, Ovo, E.ON and EDF all offer these grants so if you’re with one of these suppliers, you should contact them to find out if help is available.
Alternatively, customers of any supplier might be able to get a grant from the British Gas Energy Trust.
To get help direct from an energy supplier, you will need to provide detailed information about your financial situation.
Some people regarded as ‘vulnerable’ (due to being sick or disabled) might also be able to get help from their supplier if they sign up to the Priority Services Register.
Talk to your supplier
If you’re worried about paying your energy bills, you should contact your supplier. Under Ofgem rules, energy firms must work with you to agree on a payment plan you can afford.
You might be able to ask for a review of your payments and debt repayments, payment breaks or reductions, more time to pay or access to hardship funds.