The United Kingdom is in an energy crisis, with soaring prices pushing the average household’s energy bills to an eye-watering £1,834 a year. But don’t despair just yet; there’s a lifeline for those finding it hard to keep warm this winter. Energy firms are stepping up, offering grants, free electrical appliances, and insulation improvements, with some households eligible for assistance up to £1,500. The Daily Mail has the lowdown on what’s available and how you can get it.
A Lifeline for the Vulnerable
Under government mandates, energy suppliers must extend a helping hand to certain customers, especially the elderly, vulnerable, and those grappling with fuel poverty. However, it’s crucial to note that much of this assistance is targeted specifically at vulnerable groups, including pensioners.
If you’re buckling under the weight of hefty energy bills, your first port of call should be your energy supplier. Ofgem regulations require these companies to work with you to devise an affordable payment scheme or reassess an existing one.
Beyond Payment Plans: Grants, Appliances, and More
Some energy companies go the extra mile, offering payment breaks, debt repayment reviews, grants, appliance replacements, and free services to enhance home energy efficiency. Notably, larger suppliers generally provide more substantial financial aid compared to their smaller counterparts.
But there’s a catch: finding specifics on this support can be like looking for a needle in a haystack, and eligibility criteria can be strict and vary significantly between suppliers.
Tailored Help: What’s Your Energy Firm Offering?
British Gas: Offering More Than Warmth
British Gas stands out with grants up to £1,500, accessible to its customers and patrons of other firms. These grants, available through the British Gas Energy Support Fund, are aimed at households wrestling with energy bills. However, to dip into this fund, applicants must meet certain conditions, including residency, not having received a British Gas grant in the last year, and facing fuel poverty.
British Gas operates a second scheme, the British Gas Energy Trust and Individuals Family Fund, extending aid to non-customers. Conditions apply, and applicants need to provide evidence of income and expenditure.
EDF Energy: Erasing Debts, Upgrading Appliances
EDF doesn’t fall short, with its Customer Support Fund erasing energy debts for the vulnerable and supplying energy-efficient white goods. Applicants need independent debt advice before applying and must divulge household finances and their vulnerability status.
E.On Next: Slashing Bills by Half
E.On Next’s low-income customers can see their energy bills cut by up to 50% until March 2024. Its Winter Affordability Support Scheme, introduced in October 2023, is geared toward lower-income households or those with medical necessities. Eligibility hinges on several criteria, including income thresholds and medical requirements.
More Support Across the Board
Other companies like Good Energy, Octopus Energy, Ovo, Shell Energy, and Scottish Power also offer various forms of support, from grants and waived charges to debt write-offs and home energy assessments. Each has its set of conditions, with some requiring customers to share personal financial details or consult debt charities.
Why Are Bills Skyrocketing?
Post-pandemic demand for gas has skyrocketed, but supply hasn’t kept pace. Tensions, like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, exacerbate the situation, causing gas shortages and price hikes affecting households and businesses alike.
Universal Help: Warm Home Discount and Energy Company Obligation
Aside from individual firm assistance, broader help is available. The Warm Home Discount offers a £150 bill reduction, applied across all energy firms with significant customer bases. It targets two segments: Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit recipients and those on specific means-tested benefits.
The Energy Company Obligation, funded by the government, equips qualifying homes with energy-saving enhancements. Eligibility depends on several factors, including your home’s Energy Performance Certificate rating and whether you’re claiming certain benefits.
In the face of surging energy costs, these lifelines from energy suppliers could be the buffer you need to keep your home warm this winter. If you’re eligible, don’t hesitate to reach out to your energy firm for the help you’re entitled to.