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Energy bills are still soaring – so here’s where to get help in the cost of living crisis

Even with Liz Truss’ plans to freeze the energy price cap, bills are still double what they were earlier this year. Here’s where to get help if you are struggling

The new prime minister Liz Truss has announced the energy price cap will be fixed at £2,500 a year for a typical home for the next two years. But that’s still a huge bill for many families – more than double the cost of energy bills at the start of 2022. 

According to research from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, some areas of the country “risk seeing almost every home in fuel poverty” even with Truss’ plans to freeze the energy price cap. 

As the cost of living crisis escalates and bills soar, families across the country will be struggling to stay afloat. Here’s everything you need to know about where to get help if you are struggling to pay your energy bills. 

How much are energy bills going up now?

Earlier this year, the energy price cap was £1,277. In April, Ofgem increased the energy price cap to £1971 – a rise of 54 per cent. 

The energy price cap was expected to soar above £3,500 in October, as previously announced by energy regulator Ofgem. . 

Even with Liz Truss’ new cap of £2,500, families across the country will still see a huge spike in their energy bills – more than double what they were paying earlier this year and 25 per cent higher than their current level. 

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To put that in context, the standard allowance for a single person on universal credit is around £4,018 a year. They could be spending more than half of their entire income on energy bills. 

How to get help from the government if you can’t pay your energy bills

If you are struggling with paying your bills, you may be eligible for benefits and welfare support. If you’re not sure where to start, Citizens Advice offers information and services to help people and they can advise you as to what financial support is available from the government to help you. 

You can also use Turn2Us’ benefits calculator to find out what benefits you are entitled to claim. 

These are some government schemes which may help if you are struggling to pay your energy bills:

Warm Home Discount Scheme

This scheme is set to open again in November and you could get £150 off your energy bills. The money is not paid to you – it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill. Energy suppliers fund the scheme, and the government decides who is eligible. This winter, most eligible households will get Warm Home Discount automatically where previously, you had to claim it from your supplier. Find out more here.

Winter Fuel Payment

If you were born on or before September 25 1956 you could get between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills. Find out more here. 

Cold Weather Payments

You may get a cold weather payment if you’re getting certain benefits. You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over seven consecutive days. You’ll get £25 for each day of very cold weather. The scheme is set to start on November 1. 

Scottish Welfare Fund

This is offered in Scotland to provide a safety net for people on low incomes. These include crisis grants and community care grants. Find out how to apply here.

Discretionary Assistance Fund

In Wales, there is the Discretionary Assistance Fund. This includes an emergency assistance grant, which helps cover essential costs, such as food, gas, electricity, clothing or emergency travel if you are experiencing extreme financial hardship, have lost your job or are waiting for your first payment. 

Finance Support Service

The Finance Support Service supports people who live in Northern Ireland and need short-term financial help.

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How to get help from your energy supplier if you can’t pay your bills

A number of energy suppliers offer grants to their customers to help them pay off their energy bills. Contact your energy supplier if you are struggling to pay your bills and they may be able to help. We’ve listed a few grants available below:

British Gas Energy Support Fund

These grants are available to everyone who has a fuel debt of £250 to £1,500 and you don’t have to be a British Gas customer. You’ll need to seek help from your local money advice centre first (find yours here) and be able to show that you’ve thought about how you will manage your costs in the future. You can apply for a grant and get advice from the British Gas Energy Trust through their website.

Scottish Power Hardship Fund

Scottish Power has a fund to help low-income households get their energy payments under control. It can help by clearing or reducing arrears by crediting a customer’s ScottishPower energy account.

EDF Customer Support Fund

EDF provides support for individuals struggling to manage household energy debt. Find out more and apply here. 

E.ON Next Energy Fund

This fund could help you pay your current or final E.ON Next energy bills and potentially replace old appliances. Find out more on the E.ON website.

Octopus Octo Assist Fund

If you’re an Octopus customer, you can access their financial support form here. It asks you a series of questions about your financial situation. They offer a number of support options including access to existing schemes, monetary support from the Octo Assist Fund, or a loan of a thermal imagery camera to find heat leaks at home.

Ovo Energy Fund

Ovo offers to help come up with a payment plan to make paying your energy bills more manageable. The company also runs a Let’s Talk Energy Fund and you can register your interest for  the scheme here

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How to get charitable grants to pay your energy bills 

People who are struggling financially may be eligible for charitable grants. You can find out what grants might be available to you using Turn2Us’ grant search. Grants are also usually available to people who have no recourse to public funds and cannot claim welfare benefits. Turn2Us helps people to access grants and support services if they’re in financial difficulty. If you contact them, they’ll check what’s available to you. 

Glasspool gives small grants for things like white goods, beds, bedding, children’s clothing and baby needs. For most charitable grants, you need to get a referral from a professional like a social worker, health professional, school or advice service.

Family Action provides practical, emotional and financial support to those who are experiencing poverty, disadvantage and social isolation across the country.

How to get help from your local council if you can’t pay your energy bills

If you are unable to pay your bills, your local council may have a scheme that can help you. Local councils may be able to give you debt advice, help you get hold of furniture, support you through food and fuel poverty. Your council may also have a local welfare assistance scheme, also known as crisis support. Find out what support your council offers through End Furniture Poverty’s local welfare assistance finder or contact your local authority directly.

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