Help with energy bills for those with disabilitiesedit
For many people, the prospect of the looming energy bill increase is a further strain on already-stretched finances. Alongside cost-of-living increases, more expenses on energy each month may seem difficult without support.
As a business that provides specialist services to individuals with disabilities, mobility issues and their loved ones, we understand that new financial demands can be stressful. This guide covers some of the keyways to get help and support with your energy bills for your peace of mind. Read on to find out more:
What is the April energy bill increase?
On the 1st of April 2022, the UK will be experiencing an increase in the energy price cap, leading to potentially significant increases in the cost of your bills. Ofgem has reported that the average household on a default tariff will see an increase of around £693, with prepayment customers seeing an increase of £708 on average. This change will affect the whole of the UK, but there are specific support systems and types of help available to support vulnerable people and individuals with disabilities.
What help can I get for my energy bills from the government?
There are several different ways you can access help in paying energy bills from the government. These include:
- 150 council tax rebate
In April 2022, every household in Council Tax bands A-D will receive a single payment of £150 in their bank account to help manage the increase in energy costs. Households that do not qualify, such as households that are exempt from paying council tax through benefits, can apply to local authorities directly for a discretionary £150 support payment. You can learn more here.
- £200 repayable loan
In October 2022, every electricity account will receive £200 in credit. The £200 credit will be provided as a voucher or cheque for prepayment meters. This loan is repaid over five years at £40 per year on your electricity bill.
- Winter Fuel Payment
If you were born on or before the 5th of November 1953, you might be eligible for between £100-300 to help cover heating bills. This money is typically paid between November and December to cover the coldest months of the year. You can apply for a Winter Fuel Payment here.
- Cold Weather Payment
A Cold Weather Payment is provided to individuals on a pension, income support or universal credit if the weather is recorded at or forecast to be 0 degrees or lower for seven days. This payment happens automatically and is added to any benefits you receive.
- Warm Home Discount
The Warm Home Discount scheme takes money off your electricity bill in the colder months of the year, between September and March. This discount does not affect any other payments, and as of October 2022, the scheme will be available to many more households than in the past for a £140 discount. You can learn more here.
- Oxygen concentrator rebates
If you use an oxygen concentrator in your home, a rebate for the electricity it uses may be available to you. Typically, the company that supplies the concentrator will make this payment directly into your bank account to cover running costs.
What else can I do to seek help?
Alongside government schemes and help, you can use some additional resources to seek help with your energy. These include:
- Priority Services Register
Disabled and vulnerable people can be placed on the Priority Service Register for their energy supplier. This list means you will be offered specific services for free and be given priority support and updates in an emergency. In some cases, your supplier can help with meter readings to ensure you are always up to date.
- Social tariffs
Certain energy suppliers offer social tariffs for elderly or vulnerable people. These may be lower than a standard tariff, and it is worth speaking to your supplier directly to see what may be available to you to reduce your energy cost increase.
- Grants to pay off energy debts
Certain energy companies, such as EON, Ovo and EDF Energy, allow you to apply directly for energy grants to cover the cost of any energy bills you owe. If you cannot get a grant from your current supplier, British Gas Energy Trust also offers grants that are available to anyone from any supplier to cover costs.
- Paying off energy debts
If you are concerned about getting in debt with energy bills or are already in debt, speaking to your energy supplier directly may provide the support you need. Many suppliers have a ‘vulnerable debt team’ to help you get onto a suitable payment plan and provide advice on how you could reduce bills in the future. Repayment plans for prepayment meters are also available, where a small amount of each top-up goes towards your debt.
If you are concerned about energy debt, speaking to a debt management charity like StepChange or reading this guide on Citizen’s Advice is a good place to start.