What can you do if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills?
Posted on 3rd February 2022 at 16:40
DEBT ADVICE NEWS
The energy market is facing a catastrophic crisis. Fuel prices have rocketed over the past year, and it seems likely that when April’s cap is mentioned next month, we could see prices hiking up to 50%.
This presents a very real possibility that vulnerable households may have to choose between heating their homes or feeding their families.
Even though there is currently a debate in government about the urgent actions that can be taken to lessen the impact on the vulnerable, it is still prudent to share information on what can be done to help.
Your energy supplier must help you if you’re struggling
Thanks to Ofgem rulings, if you are struggling with payments, your energy supplier must help you. Whether you pay a monthly bill or have a prepayment meter, there are steps your supplier can take to help you.
It is best to speak to them early. They can set up an affordable payment plan or offer you small amounts of emergency credit.
Furthermore, most energy suppliers offer hardship funds if you’re in debt. All the major energy firms have charitable trusts which are set up to assist their most vulnerable customers.
There are certain discounts and benefits you can claim or apply for
There is help available if needed. Certain government funds have been put aside to help people, and it really only takes a couple of minutes to see if you’re eligible.
Warm home discount: £140 can be claimed if you’re on certain benefits or get pension credit. Check that out here: https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme
Winter fuel payment: Every household with someone born on or before the 26th September 1955 is entitled to help towards their winter energy costs. You could be eligible for a payment between £100 - £300. Check this out here: https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment
Cold weather payment: Older people and those on benefits can get a grant to help cover costs when temperatures hit zero in their area. Check that out here: https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment
Your local authority could help you
To help the most vulnerable members of society, the Household Support Fund has been set up. This fund is designed to provide small grants that will help people with their essential needs, such as energy bills, utilities, food and other costs that are incurred.
Contact your local authority to discuss the Household Support Fund if you need help with your energy bills. Although the means testing is conducted by the council themselves, vulnerable people should be eligible for a small grant from this fund.
Other places you can contact for help
There are plenty of charitable organisations and other groups that have been set up to help those in most need. You could check out a list of energy help and grant specialists such as National Energy Action (NEA): https://www.nea.org.uk/ or there are wider institutions that can assist you such as:
• StepChange: www.stepchange.org
• Citizens Advice: www.citizensadvice.org.uk
• National Debt Line: www.nationaldebtline.org
• The Money and Pensions Service: www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en
There is also more information on this article by Andrew Clapstick if you are looking for other ways to help with your energy bills: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/how-to-get-help-if-you-re-struggling-with-your-energy-bills-/
We recommend using a free debt advice charity to support you with managing your debt and have a list of local and national organisations that can support you on our website.
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