THE cost of living is on the constant rise and people are looking for energy help as they prepare for winter.
The Prime Minister has already stepped in with a new Energy Price Guarantee which caps energy bills for the next two years at £2,500.
But many are still worried about the winter months.
Although households will now save £1,000 with the new government plan, it's not to say you won't be charged more based on your energy usage.
Liz Truss is still planning to hand out the £400 cash grant too, but it'll be given out in six instalments from October to March next year.
So what help can you get from your energy supplier if you're still struggling to pay your bills?
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We've listed a few top tips below.
Ask to be put on a prepayment meter
Over 4million homes are on prepayment meters where they pay for the energy they use at the time, rather than being billed later on.
If you're finding it difficult to pay for your bills at the end of the month, a prepayment meter might be a good idea.
Ofgem says suppliers must help you if you're straining to stay on top of bills.
If a prepayment meter isn't the best option, they must at least offer one of the following:
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- A full payment plan review
- Affordable debt repayment plans
- Payment breaks
- Payment reductions
- More time to pay
It's best to discuss with your supplier what's best for you.
If you do choose to go on a prepayment meter, make sure you research it thoroughly.
Energy bosses have recently claimed prepayment customers might need to top up by £15 every two days instead of weekly – and you don't want to be hopping from one problem to another.
Ask about emergency credit
This is for those who are struggling to pay on their prepayment meter or they're disconnected in any way.
Don't be afraid to ask your supplier for help if you start to panic. Here's what they could offer:
- Emergency credit
- Friendly credit
- Additional support credit
If you've got around 50p to £2 left on your meter, you'd usually ask for emergency credit. This gets you roughly £5 on your gas and electricity meter, but it depends on who you're with.
Your supplier should explain how you access it, but it's normally via a card or a code.
You'll need to pay it back on your next top up, though.
Friendly credit protects you if the shops are closed. It just means you won't be cut off whether it's in the evening, weekend or bank holiday. Usually it's between 6pm and 9am Monday-Saturday, all Sunday and on bank holidays.
You'll need to pay it back when you next top up as well.
And additional support credit is there for those who can't afford to top up, particular if they're of state pension age or have a disability.
What you can get, how this works and if you're eligible will depend on your supplier, so speak to it as soon as possible.
Ask about hardship funds
Do ask your supplier what funds are available for you to apply for – you could save up to £2,575.
We've noted down a few to start you off.
British Gas has recently confirmed that it'll pay its most vulnerable customers grants worth £750 to help with sky-high bills.
The British Gas Energy Trust has previously paid struggling households up to £1,500 – and you don't need to be a British Gas customer to apply for this help.
Ask your supplier what's on offer and how to apply, or check here:
- Bulb energy fund
- EDF's energy customer support fund
- E.on's energy fund
- Npower's energy fund
- Octopus Energy Octo Assist fund
- Ovo's debt and energy assistance
- Scottish Power's hardship fund
Other bill help
You can get help elsewhere, too.
Cost of living payment for those on tax credits – worth £324
Millions of households have been paid the first part of their £650 cost of living payment.
Around eight million payments have already been made to help hard-up households to help them pay for spiralling bills and essentials.
Those on the following benefits are eligible for the second payment worth £324:
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Pension Credit
- Universal Credit
The second payment will be paid in autumn.
However, the government has yet to confirm the exact date when payment are set to begin.
The cash will automatically land into the bank account that people use to receive their benefits.
The exact dates for when you have to make a successful claim by in order to be eligible also hasn't been confirmed.
Pensioner cost of living payment – worth £300
In November, a £300 one-off "Pensioner Cost of Living Payment" will be paid out to eight million households.
It will be given to those who already get the winter fuel payment – which is worth between £100 and £300 for those over state pension age.
To qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment and Pensioner Cost of Living Payment, the following must apply:
- You were born on or before 25 September 1956
- You lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 19 to 25 September 2022 – this is called the ‘qualifying week’
Cost of living disability payment – worth £150
Over six million people with disabilities are set to receive £150 from Tuesday, September 20.
This payment is to help those with disabilities pay for any energy intensive equipment they might have.
The payment will be made directly into their bank account and households won't need to apply.
It won't have any impact on existing benefit awards either.
You can get the cash if you claim one of the following:
- Disability Living Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Attendance Allowance
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
- Constant Attendance Allowance
- War Pension Mobility Supplement
- Adult Disability Payment (in Scotland)
- Child Disability Payment (in Scotland)
Warm Home Discount letters sent out – worth £150
Millions of households are in line to get a £150 discount off their energy bills between December and March 2023.
You'll be eligible for the automatic discount if you received any of the following benefits up to August 21 this year:
- Income support
- Income based jobseeker's allowance
- Income related employment and support allowance
- Housing benefit
- Universal credit
- Child tax credit
- Working tax credits
- Pension credit guaranteed
- Pension credit savings credit
The Department for Work and Pensions, who's overseeing the scheme, will send you letter in October to confirm if you'll get the payment later on in the year.
Payments for the £150 Warm Home Discount scheme will likely begin from December.
It's up to individual energy companies to decide when they will give their customers the discount.
If you're unsure about who supplies your energy, you can find out through Find My Supplier.
Household support fund – up to £150
Local councils are giving out cash top help households struggling with bills and other essential costs.
How much you can get depends on where you live and in many areas.
To qualify you'll usually need to be a recipient of council tax support.
You can search for yours using the search tool on gov.uk – just enter your postcode.
Local councils also offer welfare assistance schemes all year round that can help you with bills.
Cold weather payment – worth up to £75
When temperatures plummet those in low income households can get a £25 payment.
These cold weather payments have already been made in several locations where residents have experienced below zero weather.
The payment is made automatically, including to those on Universal Credit, for each seven day period of low temperatures between November 1 and March 31.
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In the coldest areas three £25 payments have been made so far this winter, adding up to £75 in total.
See if your postcode has qualified for a payment and make sure you got it if you were eligible.
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