Grants and schemes for help with your energy bills

11 min Read Published: 04 Oct 2021

Grants and schemes for help with your energy billsAs we move into winter and increasingly need to keep our homes warm, many will struggle to meet the extra cost, especially as energy tariffs continue to soar. However, support is available from the UK government under three different schemes which can help to subsidise the cost of gas and electricity during the colder months.

It is important to understand if you are eligible, and the amount you could be entitled to, if you decide that you want to apply for a grant to help pay for your energy bills. In this article, we list the three different government-backed grants available across the UK, their qualifying criteria, and how much money each one could save you over the course of a year.

Warm Home Discount

What is the Warm Home Discount?

The Warm Home Discount scheme could reduce your energy bill between October and March with the help of a one-off discount of £140 on your energy bill. You do not receive the discount personally, as it is provided on behalf of the government to your supplier, enabling them to apply the discount to your bill. It will not affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.

Who is eligible for the Warm Home Discount?

You may qualify for the Warm Home Discount if you are either:

  • Receiving the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or;
  • On a low income or in receipt of certain means-tested benefits.

How to apply for the Warm Home Discount

To apply for the Warm Home Discount, contact your energy supplier to see if you are eligible and ask them for further details on how to initiate the application process. You can read more about the scheme in our article "Warm Home Discount Scheme – how to get £140 off your energy bill".

Winter Fuel Payment

What is the Winter Fuel Payment?

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

Who is eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment?

You may qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment if you meet both of the following:

  • You were born on or before 26 September 1955.
  • You have lived in the UK for at least one day during the "qualifying week" 20-26 September 2021.

How much Winter Fuel Payment you could receive

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

Circumstances Born between 27 September 1941- 26 September 1955 Born on or before 26 September 1941
You qualify and live alone (or none of the people you live with qualify) £200 £300
You qualify and live with someone under 80 who also qualifies £100 £200
You qualify and live with someone 80 or over who also qualifies £100 £150
You qualify, live in a care home, and do not get certain benefits £100 £150

How to apply for the Winter Fuel Payment

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 of the following criteria:

  • You live in Switzerland or a European Economic Area country.
  • You have a "genuine" link to the UK, such as having worked in the UK or have family in the UK.

Cold Weather Payment

The Cold Weather Payment is a government scheme which pays £25 for each 7 consecutive days of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March. The payment is triggered if the average temperature in your area is either recorded as, or forecast to be, 0°C or below over a 7 day period.

Who is eligible for the Cold Weather Payment?

You may be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment if you are eligible for 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.

Further eligibility details

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

If you are receiving Income Support and Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, then at least 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, then at least 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 at least 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 will also be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment if your Universal Credit claim includes a disabled child amount, whether you are currently employed or not.

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

1. Contact your supplier

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

2. Agree a payment plan with your supplier

Your supplier must help you to find a solution to paying off your current debt and factor in the cost of future estimated use. You should make your energy bill debts a priority over other debts, and if you cannot reach an agreement, then your supplier may insist on fitting a pre-payment meter in your home.

3. What to do if you cannot agree on 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 supplier if they can provide any more help, such as fitting a pre-payment meter that many find a more convenient way of paying for their energy, or finding out if you may be able to get a grant from a charitable trust to help to pay your energy bill. You can also contact Citizens Advice who will provide help in advising you on how to deal with debt.

How to reduce your energy bill

1. Switch energy supplier

With the energy industry at a crisis point and suppliers collapsing up and down the UK, many customers are being forced to switch, and those yet to do so may find that there are cheaper tariffs out there. You could make savings into the hundreds of pounds by switching to a different deal. Check out our list of the best energy auto-switching services to find out where to go to and how to change your supplier.

2. Control your thermostat

According to the Energy Saving Trust, you could cut your heating bills by up to £75 a year by turning down your thermostat by just 1°C. You can do this by fitting radiator thermostats that allow you to control the temperature in each room separately, so you can reduce the cost of heating rooms that may not be being used, which could cut hundreds off your bill by the end of the year.

3. Get your boiler serviced

An inefficient boiler not only results in poor heating within your home, but will also increase your energy bills. A regular boiler service saves you money but also gives you peace of mind that you're less likely to be left without any gas or electricity during the cold winter months.

4. 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. The Energy Saving Trust has a helpful list of suggestions on how to reduce heat loss in your property.