If you’re struggling with your energy bills, you might be able to get support from the government. Grants for energy-efficiency improvements and discounts might be available from your energy supplier too.
This is a one-off payment you get towards your bills each winter. You’ll qualify for winter fuel payments if you were born on or before 5 October 1954 and you lived in the UK for at least one day between 21-27 September – the ‘qualifying’ week.
You’ll get between £100 and £300. The amount you get depends on the benefits you get and whether you live alone. It’s a tax-free payment and doesn’t affect your benefits.
Most payments are made automatically in either November or December. Your payment won’t be made automatically if you meet the age criteria but only get housing benefit, child benefit or universal credit. You’ll need to claim instead. You can claim by phone or post.
If you’re claiming for the first time, and want to get a payment for last winter, you need to claim by 31 March. If you claim after 31 March, you won’t get a winter fuel payment until next winter.
You only need to claim once. After that, you’ll keep getting a winter fuel payment each year, unless your circumstances change.
Cold weather payments are paid by the government and means tested. You can get them between 1 November and 31 March. If the average temperature in your area drops below 0°C for seven days in a row, you’ll get £25. You’ll get a payment if the temperature’s forecast to drop that low too.
You need to be on certain benefits to get cold weather payments. You don’t apply for it. It’s paid automatically into the bank account that your benefits are paid into, usually within 14 working days.
With this one-off discount, you get £140 off your electricity bill.
You’re eligible for the warm home discount scheme if you:
If you get the Guaranteed Credit element of Pension Credit you should get a letter telling you how to get your discount. Your supplier should discount your electricity bill by the end of March.
If you’re on a low income, it works differently. Your supplier decides who gets the discount, and they have their own eligibility criteria too. Get in touch with your supplier as soon as possible if you qualify to get help with your bills. Each supplier has a limited number of discounts available.
Not all energy suppliers are part of the scheme. If your supplier isn’t, you won’t be able to get a warm home discount.
Energy suppliers have to help their customers efficiently heat their homes under the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) . This means you could get money towards making energy-saving improvements to your home. To qualify, you need to be on certain benefits and/or have a low income.
You can get help if you own your own home, rent or live in social housing. If you’re renting, you’ll need permission from your landlord. If you live in social housing, only homes with low energy efficiency ratings are eligible.
Improvements can include loft or wall insulation and boiler repairs. Under the scheme, part or all of cost of the work will be covered.
If you live in England, contact your energy supplier to find out what help you can get under ECO. If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland the scheme is a bit different. You can find out how to access energy-saving improvements on the energy saving trust website.
If you don’t qualify for discounts or government support, but are struggling to keep up with your bills, let your energy supplier know - you could get cut off if you don’t.
Your supplier has to help you try and find a solution. They’ll usually offer you a payment plan to get on top of your bills. If you’re on benefits, your energy supplier can take payments directly from your benefits if it’s easier for you. If you can’t agree on a payment plan, your supplier might insist on fitting a pre-payment meter.