Many of us worry about the cost of gas and electricity, especially as we reach the winter months. Take a look at how you can get help towards the cost of your energy bills.
Although we are lucky enough to live in one of the richest countries in the world, there are still plenty of people that can’t afford to heat their house each winter. In some parts, families have to make the choice of eating properly or having warmth.
In recent times, there have been moves to help the hardest hit.
Ofgem price cap
At the beginning of 2019, Ofgem (the energy market regulator) introduced a price cap for standard variable, or ‘default’, energy tariffs. That meant that if you belong to one of the many households that never switch energy suppliers, the maximum price you pay was capped and your supplier couldn’t just keep putting up their prices.
Although this is good news, if you are on one of these tariffs, you are probably still overpaying and can find a better deal if you switch.
To start saving even more money, you need to visit a comparison site to see what deals are available. It should only take you a few minutes to do and can save you £100’s. There are also energy companies out there that give you credit to your account when you switch to them. I recently changed to Octopus Energy and received £50 just for switching!
Warm Home Discount Scheme
The scheme was introduced in January 2015. The idea was simple – to tackle fuel poverty in Great Britain. If you are eligible, you don’t actually receive the money but will see a one-off £140 discount from your electricity bill. This is usually applied between October and March.
Although the scheme usually begins in October, many energy companies allow customers to register their interest in applying for the grant early. And, the sooner they apply the better because funds are limited.
Who is eligible?
You are guaranteed to qualify if
- your electricity supplier was part of the scheme
- your name (or your partner’s) was on the bill
- you were getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (even if you get Savings Credit as well)
Others will qualify, but this can change from year to year, so it’s worth checking the government website to see the latest rules.
Last year, British Gas accepted people that received the following.
- Income Support.
- Income based Jobseekers’ Allowance.
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance (which includes a work related activity or support component).
- Universal Credit (low income elements).
How to claim
Energy companies are now allowing you to apply (or at least register your interest). Simply click on the link to your provider below and fill in your details. Your supplier will get back in touch with you in due course. If I haven’t provided the link, it’s because either your supplier isn’t accepting applications yet, or I haven’t been able to find it! Bear in mind that some companies are still only allowing people to register then interest, rather than apply.
Which electricity suppliers are part of the scheme?
British GasBulb Energy Co-operative energy Economy Energy
First Utility Manweb – see ScottishPower
Sainsbury’s Energy – see British Gas
Scottish Gas – see British Gas
Southern Electric Spark Energy
Not sure if you qualify?
If you aren’t sure, just apply. The worst that can happen is that they say ‘no.’
As I said earlier, funds are limited for the scheme and it runs on a first-come, first-served basis. If you’re eligible, the sooner you apply, the more likely you are to qualify.
Visit the government site if you want to read more about the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
In 2011, energy suppliers started to create Fuel Banks in partnership with the Trussell Trust and other charities. These banks offer vouchers to the vulnerable to help pay towards gas and electricity bills.
Families on a low income and using a pre-payment meter can claim up to £49 towards their bills, up to 3 times per year. The voucher can be used towards gas, heating bills or electricity arrears.
The Fuel Banks have supported over 300,000 people since opening and given out over £4.5m in emergency credit.
The sad news is, this scheme is due to end in March 2021 unless it receives more funding.
You can visit the Fuel Bank Foundation for more information. Or, you can take a look at NPower’s