It’s the time of year where we’re turning up the heat in our homes (literally). And with all of us uncertain about energy prices at the moment, we may be worried about our bills hiking up as a result.
If you think that paying your energy bill may be a problem, there is help. Aside from contacting your supplier – which according to regulator Ofgem is obliged to help you where it can – there are government schemes available that you may be eligible for to get a discount or grant to contribute to your energy costs. Here are the main ones – and the criteria and deadlines you need to know about.
Winter Fuel Payment
The Winter Fuel Payment could give you between £100 and £300 in winter to help cover the cost of your heating bills.
To qualify your date of birth must be on or before 26 September 1955 and you also need to have lived in the UK for at least one day of the ‘qualifying week’ – this year that’s between 20th and 26th September 2021.
If you meet the above eligibility criteria then you automatically get the Winter Fuel Payment if either:
If you get neither of these, you’ll need to make a claim for the payment. For winter 2021/2022 you need to have done this by the end of March 2022.
Cold Weather Payment
If you’re receiving certain benefits, including pension benefit, income support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or Support for Mortgage Interest, then you may be entitled to a Cold Weather Payment.
This is a payment of £25 for every seven consecutive days of very cold weather – defined as being or forecast to be zero degrees celsius or below – between 1 November 2021 and 31 March 2022. You shouldn’t need to claim for a Cold Weather Payment; if you’re eligible as it should be paid automatically, and you can check on the Government’s website to see if your postcode qualifies.
Warm Home Discount
The Warm Home Discount could, if you are eligible, give you £140 off your electricity bill this winter – or possibly your gas bill instead if your supplier is your provider for both. The discount is a one-off reduction on your bill between October 2021 and March 2022.
You need to be part of either the ‘core group’ or the ‘broader group’ to be potentially eligible and there are different routes to apply for each.
The ‘core group’: This is for those fo who on 4 July 2021 all of the following apply:
This year the Warm Home Discount scheme opened on 18 October 2021 and if you qualify to get it you should have received a letter from their supplier. Your discount will be applied to your bill by 31 March 2022.
If you don’t get this by 31 December 2021 and you think you are eligible based on all the criteria above, contact the Warm Home Discount scheme helpline.
The ‘broader group’: This is for those who do not get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit but are on a low income or get certain means-tested benefits. However, your energy supplier must be a part of the scheme and you must stay with your supplier until the discount has been applied.
In these cases you will need to apply to your energy supplier directly. There’s a limit on the number of discounts your supplier can give, but if you do feel you are eligible, get in touch as soon as possible to confirm this and find out how to apply.
Your energy supplier can also help
Under regulator Ofgem’s rules, energy suppliers must work with you to agree a payment plan you can afford if you’re worried about paying your energy bills. As part of this, options you can ask for include a review of your payments or repayments, payment breaks or reductions, more time to pay or access to hardship funds.
You may find your energy supplier is one of those that operates a scheme or grants to help with energy costs – contact your supplier directly to ask and see if you can apply. Some of these schemes are actually open to all, meaning you don’t have to be a customer to receive it.
Finally, there are a number of small things you can do to reduce your energy consumption and cut your bills – our helpful guide gives you the tips you can try.