Energy cap set to rise again - what help is available if you're struggling with your bills?
The cost-of-living crisis is hitting many households hard, and with the energy price cap rising to nearly £3,600 per year from October, there will be further concern about how to make ends meet.
Households' gas and electricity bills are set to rise by 80% from the current cap of £1,971.
So with the latest expected increase, what help is available for households concerned about their current sky-high energy bills and their impending rise?
£400 energy bill discount
Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor, announced a £15bn support package for consumers in May, including a £400 discount for every household on their energy bills.
The discount will be made in six payments from October.
But experts have warned that support does not go far enough, as it was announced in May when the price cap was not expect to soar as high.
How to get money back if you pay council tax
Many households will be able to receive a rebate on council tax to help cover the cost of rising energy bills.
You will get a rebate if you pay council tax and your home is in council tax bands A to D – you will receive a £150 rebate.
People living in England can find out which council tax they are in by using the government’s online checker here or you can find your band by checking your council tax band.
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You will only get the rebate if you’re the person who has to pay council tax for your household. Only one person per household will get the rebate.
Households will get the rebate even if you:
get a council tax reduction, including a full reduction, and your home is in bands A to D
get the disabled band reduction discount and your home is in bands A to E
are subject to immigration control and your biometric residence permit says “no recourse to public funds”
How to receive the rebate
If you set up a direct debit to pay your council tax before the end of March 2022 your council should pay your rebate directly into your bank account, with a one-off payment of £150.
If you don’t pay by direct debit or didn’t set up a direct debit before the end of March 2022, you should still get a rebate – your local council will contact you and you will probably be asked to fill in an online form.
You should contact your council before 30 September 2022 to check how you can claim the rebate, if you haven’t heard from your council.
Winter Fuel Payment
The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual one-off payment to help you pay for heating during the winter.
If eligible, you could receive between £250 and £600. You can usually get one if you were born on or before September 26, 1956.
Details are here on the government website.
Cold Weather Payment
Cold Weather Payments are one-off payments to help you pay for extra heating costs when it’s very cold.
You’ll get a payment each time the temperature drops below a specific temperature for a set period of time.
You’ll get £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.
You’ll only be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment if you already get:
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
There is no need to apply - if you're eligible, you will be paid automatically.
However the 2021 to 2022 Cold Weather Payment scheme has now ended, and next year’s scheme will start on 1 November 2022.
Find out more about Cold Weather Payments on the government website.
Warm Home Discount
The Warm Home Discount is available to households on a low income or claiming pension credit.
If you’re eligible you could get a one-off discount of £140 off your bills between October and March.
The money is not paid to you but is taken off your bill.
You can still qualify for the discount if you use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter.
If, however, you live in a mobile home, you have to apply separately for the Park Homes Warm Home Discount scheme.
The Warm Home Discount Scheme for 2021 to 2022 has now closed, and the 2022 and 2023 scheme will open later in the year.
You must contact your supplier to confirm your eligibility and apply, though the number of discounts a supplier can give is limited.
How to get a grant from your energy supplier
If you’re in debt to your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help pay it off.
The following energy suppliers offer grants to their customers:
If none of these companies supply your energy, you can still apply for a grant though British Gas Energy Trust as you do not need to be a customer, but you need to get debt advice before applying.
Check if you can get a grant from the British Gas Energy Trust here.
Applications can be time consuming. For help, CAB advises people to reach out to one of its advisers or to contact Money Helper.
Local Energy Grant
Simple Energy Advice offers a tool on its website to locate grants available in your specific area.
Your local council may also provide various grants.
Grants from charities
Let's Talk has information on grants some charities offer and how to apply.
Turn2Us has grants search and adviser locator tools.
What can you do if you can’t afford to top up your prepayment meter?
You might be able to get a fuel voucher. This is a code given to you in a letter or in a text message or email.
You can use it to add credit to your gas card or electricity key. If you don't have one of these, contact your supplier to get one.
Your local council may be able to help you get a fuel voucher.
For more information on advice if you're struggling with your energy bills, contact Citizens Advice and you can get help from an adviser.