Help With Energy Bills: Government Grants and Schemes
Finding it a struggle to pay your energy bills? You’re not alone - in the UK an estimated 3.5 million UK households are believed to be living in fuel poverty. Fortunately there are a number of different government grants and schemes available to support those who may need help meeting their energy costs. Read on to discover what help may be available to you.
There are a number of government-backed grants and schemes that have been set up to help tackle fuel poverty. We’ve put together a list of those you may benefit from if you or someone you know is struggling to pay their bills.
Warm Home Discount
The Warm Home Discount is a one-off rebate of £140 applied to energy bills between between September and March for those who qualify. Those eligible for the Warm Home Discount are classified in two groups:
- Core Group: Primarily those who qualify for the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, this core group receives the Warm Home Discount automatically.
- Broader Group: Other energy consumers on low income or means-tested benefits can apply for the Warm Home Discount through their energy supplier. This group must submit their application on a yearly basis.
The Warm Home Discount is run in cooperation with a number of larger energy providers, so contact your supplier to see if they participate in the scheme.
Winter Fuel Payment
This is an annual government grant of between £100 and £300 for retired and elderly people to help with winter heating costs. Unlike some of the other listed schemes, the Winter Fuel Payment is not means-tested.
To qualify, you must have been born on or before 5 April 1954 and have lived in the UK for at least one day of the qualifying week, which for this year is 16-22 September 2019.
Cold Weather Payment
The Cold Weather Payment is a one-off payment of £25 when temperatures in your area are 0ºC or below for seven days or more. To qualify you must already be claiming certain types of benefits, such as Pension Credit, Income Support or Jobseeker’s allowance. For the full list of eligibility criteria and how to apply, see our dedicated Cold Weather Payment page.
Pension Credit is a tax-free, means-tested benefit designed to supplement monthly household income for retirees who need it. There are two parts to Pension Credit:
- Guarantee Credit
- Savings Credit
The Guarantee Credit element tops up weekly earnings to £167.25 if you are single or £255.25 if you claim as a couple. Those who qualify for Guarantee Credit also receive the Warm Home Discount automatically.
Energy Company Obligation (ECO)
The ECO scheme is a government-backed initiative to reduce carbon emissions and, in turn, lower heating bills for households that qualify for the scheme. Larger energy suppliers are legally obliged to install energy efficiency measures, such as insulation, double glazing and draught proofing. Depending on your circumstances, you could even be eligible for subsidised boiler repairs or replacement.
Whether you are eligible for funding or not depends on a number of different factors. Check with your supplier to see if you can benefit from the scheme.
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Energy Company Schemes
Some energy suppliers also run their own grants and schemes - and you don’t necessarily have to be a customer to take advantage of them.
British Gas Energy Trust
The British Gas Energy Trust can offer support with a number of issues, including assistance in paying overdue energy bills and funding for boiler repairs or replacements. You can apply for a grant even if you’re not a British Gas customer as, despite its name, the British Gas Energy Trust is an independent trust, registered as a charity.
Scottish Power Hardship Fund
If you’re a Scottish Power customer, you may qualify for the Scottish Power Hardship Fund. Administered by an independent body in Social Enterprise Direct (SED), the fund offers grants of between £100 and £3,000 to households with overdue gas or electricity bills or debts in order to ease fuel poverty
Npower Energy Fund
The Npower Energy Fund aims to support households who struggle with their home energy payments. The fund provides grants to Npower customers to help pay overdue bills and replace white goods such as cookers and washing machines with more energy efficient appliances.
Eon Energy Fund
The Eon Energy fund provides Eon customers with financial assistance in a number of different areas, from contributing to paying overdue energy bills to financing the replacement of inefficient appliances and faulty boilers. In some cases, the Eon Energy Fund can also provide e-learning vouchers to help fund the study of online courses in finance management.
Ovo Energy Fund
The Ovo Energy Fund is a debt support fund which can help vulnerable Ovo customers who have fallen behind in paying their bills. Grants from the fund are made directly into the customer’s Ovo account.