Grants and schemes for help with your energy bills

11 min Read Published: 17 Nov 2020

Grants and schemes for help with your energy billsAs we move into winter and need to heat our homes many will struggle to meet the extra cost involved. Support is available from the government under three schemes so it is important to understand who qualifies and the amounts involved to find out if you or members of your family can benefit during the cold winter days.

Warm Home Discount

What is it?

The Warm Home Discount Scheme could reduce your energy bill between September and March with a one-off discount of £140 on your energy bill. You do not receive the discount personally but it is provided to your supplier enabling them to apply the discount to your bill and will not affect your Cold Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.

Eligibility

You qualify for Warm Home Discount if you are either:

  • receiving the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit,  your supplier is part of the scheme and your name (or partner's name) is on the bill

or

  • on a low income or in receipt of certain means-tested benefits

How to apply

Check with your energy supplier to see if you are eligible and ask them for details of how to apply for the Warm Home Discount.

Winter Fuel Payment

What is it?

The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual one-off payment of £100-£300 made by the government to qualifying individuals to assist with the extra fuel costs during the winter period. If you qualify, payment is usually made automatically in November/December and the payment will not be taxed nor will it impact any other benefits you receive.

Eligibility

To qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment you must meet both these criteria:

  • you were born on or before 5 October 1954

and

  • you have lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 21 to 27 September 2020 - known as the 'qualifying week'

How much winter fuel payment will you receive

The amount of Winter Fuel Payment you will receive will depend on your circumstances during the qualifying week as follows:

Winter Fuel Payment Amount Criteria
£100 born between 28/9/40 & 5/10/54 and live with someone who also qualifies
£100 born between 28/9/40 & 5/10/54 and live in a care home and not in receipt of certain benefits
£150 born before 27/9/40 and live in a care home and not in receipt of certain benefits
£200 born between 28/9/40 & 5/10/54 and live alone or with non-qualifying people
£200 born before 27/9/40 and live with someone under age 80 who also qualifies
£300 born before 27/9/40 and live alone or with non-qualifying people

How to apply

You usually do not need to apply for the Winter Fuel Payment and should receive it automatically if you are eligible.

If you have not received the Winter Fuel Payment before, then you will need to make an application if any of the following apply:

  • you are not in receipt of a State Pension
  • you are only in receipt of Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction or Child Benefit
  • you have deferred your State Pension
  • if you were not a resident in the UK for the 'qualifying week' you might still qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment if you meet both these criteria:

    and

    • you have a link to the UK that is genuine which could include having worked or have family in the UK

     

Cold Weather Payment

The Cold Weather Payment will pay, to those that qualify, £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1st November and 31st March. The payment is triggered if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over 7 consecutive days.

Eligibility

You may get Cold Weather Payments if you’re getting any of the following:

  • Pension credit
  • Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI)
  • Income Support and income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit

Eligibility explained

There are some additional caveats that you should be aware of.

If you are receiving Income Support and income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, then one of the following must apply:

  • you have a disability or pensioner premium
  • you have a child who is disabled
  • you receive Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
  • you have a child under 5 living with you

If you are receiving Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), then one of the following must apply:

  • you have a severe or enhanced disability premium
  • you have a pensioner premium
  • you have a child who is disabled
  • you receive Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
  • you have a child under 5 living with you

If you are receiving Universal Credit and you are not employed or self-employed, then one of the following must apply:

  • you have a health condition or disability and have limited capability for work (with or without work-related activity)
  • you have a child under 5 living with you

You’ll also be eligible if your Universal Credit claim includes a disabled child amount, whether you’re employed or not.

What to do if you are struggling to pay your energy bill

Contact your supplier

As soon as you feel you are struggling to pay your energy bills then contact your supplier to discuss ways to pay what you owe them. Your supplier is obliged to help to find a solution and you should only agree to a solution that works for you.

Agree a payment plan with your supplier

Your supplier must help you find a solution to paying off your current debt and factor in the cost of future estimated use. You may need to provide your supplier with your income outgoings and your personal circumstances to help them fully understand your situation. It is important that you try and find a solution and you should make this debt a priority over other debts. If you cannot reach an agreement then your supplier may insist on fitting a pre-payment meter in your home.

What to do if you cannot agree a payment plan

It is very unusual not to be able to agree on a payment plan but if this is the case, ask your energy company if they can provide any more help such as

  • fitting a pre-payment meter that many find a better way of paying for energy
  • you may be able to get a grant from a charitable trust to help to pay your energy bill, your supplier should be able to provide details

You can also contact Citizens Advice who will provide help in advising you on how to deal with debt and any benefits that be available.

How to reduce your energy bill

Switch energy supplier

There is strong competition for customers amongst energy suppliers resulting in some great energy deals available. The savings you can make by moving to the most competitive tariff could run into a few hundred pounds a year.

Read our comprehensive article - Compare the best energy auto-switching services in the UK to find out more about switching energy suppliers.

Control your thermostat

According to the Energy Saving Trust you can cut your heating bills by up to £75 a year by turning down your thermostat by just 1°C. Fit radiator thermostats that will allow you to control the temperature in each room separately, therefore, reducing the cost of heating rooms that may not be used regularly.

Get your boiler serviced

An inefficient boiler will not only result in poor heating within your home but will also increase your energy bills. A regular boiler service will not only save you money but give you peace of mind that it is less likely to breakdown in the middle of the winter.

Insulate your home

Consider investing in loft and cavity wall insulation as this will reduce the amount of heating you lose through your roof and walls and therefore reduce your energy bills.

Check if you are eligible for a Green Homes Grant

The government has recently announced that homeowners can apply for a Green Homes Grant of up to £5,000 so that you can make energy-efficient home improvements. The application should be made between September 2020 and March 2021 and will cover at least two-thirds of the cost of eligible energy-saving home improvements.

 

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