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A client has asked: “Is there any help to cover my winter fuel bills?”
Anyone of any age on a low income, in receipt of an income related benefit (Income support, pension credit, universal credit, income base JSA or income related ESA) can get a cold weather payment. If the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below for 7 consecutive days, you’ll get a payment of £25. You do not need to apply; if you are eligible you will receive the payment automatically. https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment/overview
Pensioners who are on the guarantee credit part of pension credit or anyone on a low income may be able to get a Warm Home £140 discount on your electricity bill between October & March. To get it, you have to have been with the supplier since at least July 2017, have your name on the bill and either be on Pension Credit (guarantee credit element) or qualify for your supplier’s low-income option. Don’t switch suppliers until you have received the payment.
Not all energy suppliers have a scheme and scheme rules will vary depending on the supplier. See: https://debtcamel.co.uk/warm-home-discount-electricity/ and https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme/eligibility to check if your supplier is on the list and to see if low income people can apply. You are usually notified by 30th November and the discount applied before the end of March. If you don’t receive a letter you can contact the Warm Home team.
Those of State Pension age (born on or before 5th August 1953) also receive the Winter Fuel Payment – this is a Universal Benefit, so everyone is eligible (with a few exceptions – see: https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment/eligibility ). If it is the first time you qualify (or you have deferred your state pension) you will need to apply, otherwise it is automatic. You will receive between £100 & £300 depending on certain criteria.
Do you owe money for your gas or electricity? You may be able to get a grant to help pay it off. There are 3 energy company trusts which may help regardless of which company your supplier is. There are also some associated with a particular supplier. Many of these will require that you seek debt advice. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/get-help-paying-your-bills/grants-and-benefits-to-help-you-pay-your-energy-bills/
Another way which may help is to switch energy supplier as by reducing your annual bill you may be able to pay off your debts. Use Uswitch – all you have to do is put in your postcode, answer a few questions and options will be presented to you. https://www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/guides/energy-debt/
In summary: there is some help available. For a quick overview look at: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/get-help-paying-your-bills/grants-and-benefits-to-help-you-pay-your-energy-bills/