Customer Support and Advice
Help for our domestic customers with energy costs & the rising cost of living
All information and links in this article are accuate to the best of our knowledge at the point of writing. For up to date information and advice you can go to www.gov.uk or www.citizensadvice.org.uk
First published October 2022
Last updated 12th April 2023
We understand that our customers, along with many other people across the country, will be experiencing concerns due to the ongoing ‘Cost of Living crisis’.
You can get help if you’re struggling to afford your energy bills or top up your prepayment meter. You might be able to take advantage of certain benefits, grants and help offered by the government and energy suppliers.
Get a one-off payment from the government
The government will give every household in Great Britain £400 off their electricity bill. This is called the Energy Bills Support Scheme.
The Energy Bills Support Scheme provides a £400 non-repayable discount to all domestic households to help with their energy bills.
The Energy Bills Support Scheme provides a £400 non-repayable discount to all
domestic households to help with their energy bills.
You don’t need to do anything to get the money and you won’t have to pay it back. The £400 will be automatically added to your energy account over 6 months starting from October 2022. If you have a prepayment meter, the £400 will be added to your meter or you’ll be given vouchers.
Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding
(EBSS Alternative Funding)
Households in England, Scotland and Wales without a direct relationship to a domestic energy supplier, including many care home residents and those living in park homes, will receive a £400 discount on their fuel bills through the EBSS Alternative Funding.
Online applications will open in January for households in England, Scotland and Wales who are eligible for the £400 EBSS Alternative Funding to submit their details, alongside a helpline for those without online access.
The GOV.UK page launching in January 2023 will include an overview of eligibility
and what applicants need to do to apply for energy bills support under the EBSS
alternative funding scheme.
If you do not use mains gas for your heating:
The Alternative Fuel Payment (AFP) will provide a one-off, £200 payment to UK households that use alternative fuels for heating, such as heating oil, LPG, coal and biomass, instead of mains gas.
This £200 payment will ensure that all households who do not benefit through the Energy Price Guarantee to heat their homes, receive support for the cost of the fuel they do use.
The vast majority of eligible households in Great Britain will receive payment automatically via their electricity supplier from February 6th 2023 with no need to take any action.
If you don’t pay for your electricity bill directly to an energy supplier, you’ll need to apply for your grant and evidence the purchase of alternative fuels from June 2022 onwards.
On 27th February 2023, the gov.uk portal was launched to apply for support under the EBSS Alternative Funding scheme and you must claim before the end of May 2023.
Find more details on the gov.uk website here https://www.gov.uk/apply-energy-bill-support-if-not-automatic.
- Those households not on standard gas or electricity contracts, such as those living in park homes or on heat networks – and so outside the scheme – will receive support equivalent to both the Energy Price Guarantee and the Energy Bills Support Scheme.
- The park owner who has the direct commercial relationship with the energy supplier will receive support via the Energy Bill Relief Scheme and will have to pass the benefit directly on to residents.
- Customers do not need to take any action in order to receive this support, which they will receive by the end of the year.
Warm Home Discount Scheme
You might be able to get £150 off your electricity bill or £150 added to your prepayment meter.
If you have a standard credit meter, the money is provided as a £150 rebate applied to your electricity or gas bill between October and March. If you’re on a prepay meter, you’ll usually be sent a top-up voucher.
The scheme is now different in England and Wales from that in Scotland. In England and Wales, you no longer need to apply for the warm home discount, it’ll be awarded automatically to those on pension credit and certain benefits, who are eligible. In Scotland, some will still need to apply to get it.
Check if you’re eligible for the Warm Home Discount: www.gov.uk/check-if-youre-eligible-for-warm-home-discount
You may be able to get other kinds of support.
In addition to the cost of living payments available for this year (www.gov.uk/guidance/cost-of-living-payment) for more details, the government will be giving eligible households the following support:
Cost of Living Payment
- Households on means tested beneﬁts, including Universal Credit, Pension Credit and Tax Credits, will receive a payment of £900 in the financial year 2023 – 24, paid automatically in two instalments, and pensioner households will receive an additional £300.
Disability Cost of Living Payment:
- Individuals on disability benefits will receive a one-off £150 payment in September to help with extra costs, such as for specialist equipment or transport.
- This is in addition to the £900Cost of Living Payment for disabled people who also receive means tested benefits.
Household Support Fund:
- Depending on your circumstances, you might get one or more of the payments, up to a total of £1,350. The Household Support Fund is provided by the Government to local authorities to support families with children and individuals most in need.
- Find your local council here: Find your local council – GOV.UK
Budget Direct Debit
Make budgeting easier by spreading your bills across the year.
We’ll work out your monthly payment and let you choose which day of the month we debit your account.
To set up a direct debit for your account, you will need to contact
us for a budget account facility.
This only takes a few minutes to do over the phone, and you can reach us on:
0800 574 574
Get money back if you pay council tax
You can get £150 back from the council to help pay your energy bills – this is called a ‘rebate’.
You’ll get the rebate if you pay council tax and your home is in council tax bands A to D. You can find your band on your council tax bill or check your council tax band on GOV.UK.
You’ll only get the rebate if you’re the person who has to pay council tax for your household. Only one person per household will get the rebate.
You’ll get the rebate even if you:
• get a Council Tax Reduction, including a full reduction, and your home is in bands A to D
• get the Disabled Band Reduction discount and your home is in bands A to E
• are subject to immigration control and your biometric residence permit says “no recourse to public funds”
If you get benefits, the rebate won’t affect them.
If you can’t get the rebate, the council might still offer you financial help. For example, they might help you if you’re in council tax bands E to H and you get certain benefits. Contact your local council to see if they can help you – find your local council on GOV.UK.
How you’ll get the rebate
If you set up a direct debit to pay your council tax before the end of March 2022, your council should pay you automatically. Local councils will start to make the payments directly into bank accounts in April 2022.
If you don’t pay by direct debit or didn’t set up a direct debit before the end of March 2022, you should still get a rebate.
Your local council will contact you – they’ll probably ask you to complete an online form.
After you’ve given the council your details, they’ll make the payment as soon as possible.
If you don’t hear from your council, contact them to check how you can claim the rebate. You should contact them before 30 September 2022 when the scheme closes. Find your local council on GOV.UK.
If your bank account is overdrawn
You can ask your bank to use this £150 rebate to pay your energy bills instead of paying off your overdraft. This is known as ‘exercising your first right of appropriation’. You can check how to exercise your first right of appropriation on National Debtline.
If you can’t afford to top up your prepayment meter
You might be able to get a fuel voucher. This is a code given to you in a letter or in a text message or email. You can use it to add credit to your gas card or electricity key. If you don’t have one of these, contact your supplier to get one.
You can use a fuel voucher at:
- a shop signed up to PayPoint – find a shop near you on the PayPoint website.
- a Post Office or shop signed up to Payzone – find a Post Office or shop near you on the Payzone website.
To use your voucher you’ll need to take:
- the code and instructions
- some form of ID – for example, your passport or a bill with your name and address
You must use your fuel voucher within 3 months after you get it.
If you have problems using your voucher, contact the organisation that gave it to you – you should be able to find their contact information on the instructions.
If you don’t use gas or electricity for your heating
You might be able to get a fuel voucher if you:
- rely on oil, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), coal or wood as your main source of heating
- aren’t on the gas grid
You’ll need to show that you can’t heat your home because you can’t afford to buy fuel – or you might not be able to afford it soon.
Talk to a Citizen’s Advice adviser if you need a voucher. Your local Citizens Advice will need to apply for you.
Winter Fuel Payment
The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual one-off payment to help you pay for heating during the winter.
You can usually get a Winter Fuel Payment if you were born on or before 26 September 1956.
This year you’ll automatically get an extra £300 with your usual Winter Fuel Payment. You’ll get the payment in either November or December.
You should start getting the Winter Fuel Payment automatically once you reach State Pension age, but sometimes you might need to apply. You can find out how to apply for the Winter Fuel Payment on GOV.UK.
Cold Weather Payments
Cold Weather Payments are one-off payments to help you pay for extra heating costs when it’s very cold.
You’ll get a payment each time the temperature drops below a specific temperature for a set period of time.
You’ll only be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment if you already get:
- Pension Credit
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Universal Credit
- support for mortgage interest
If you’re eligible, you’ll get paid automatically. Find out more about Cold Weather Payments on GOV.UK.
Grants to help pay off your energy debts
If you’re in debt to your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help pay it off.
The following energy suppliers offer grants to their customers:
British Gas Energy Support Fund – apply for a grant on the British Gas Energy Trust website.
Scottish Power Hardship Fund – apply for a grant on the Scottish Power Hardship Fund website.
Ovo Energy Fund – apply for a grant on the Ovo Energy Fund website.
E.ON Energy Fund – apply for a grant on the E.ON Energy Fund website.
E.ON Next Energy Fund – apply for a grant on the E.ON Next Energy Fund website.
EDF Energy Customer Support Fund – sign up to the priority services register to apply for a grant on the EDF Energy website.
Bulb Energy Fund – apply for a grant on the Bulb Energy Fund website.
Octopus ‘Octo Assist Fund’ – apply for a grant on the Octopus website.
If you can’t get a grant from your supplier, you might be able to get a grant from the British Gas Energy Trust. These grants are available to anyone – you don’t have to be a British Gas customer. You’ll need to get debt advice before applying – get help from a debt adviser.
If you’ve already spoken to a debt adviser – check if you can get a grant from the British Gas Energy Trust.
Before you apply
When you apply for a grant, you’ll have to provide detailed information about your financial situation in your application. It could take a while to complete, and it might be worth getting help from a friend or family member. You can also talk to a Citizen’s Advice adviser for help filling in forms.
It’s worth checking on the trust or fund website if there’s anything else you need to do before you apply.
For example, if your supplier is E.ON, E.ON Next or EDF you’ll need to show you’ve completed a budget sheet with a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) approved adviser. To do this:
Find an adviser using the debt advice locator on the Money Helper website.
Contact the adviser to arrange a conversation where you’ll complete a budget sheet.
You can get ready for your conversation by using the Budget Planner on the Money Helper website.
Local energy grants
You might also be able to find grants or schemes run by your local council.
If you’re struggling with living costs
If you’re struggling with money, there are things you can do to save on your regular living costs. Check what to do if you need help with living costs.
If you’re finding it hard to pay your bills, you can get help. Find out more about getting help with your bills.
If you’re struggling to pay for food, find out how to get help from a food bank.
If you need more help – a trained adviser can give you advice over the phone or by email.