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Help with energy bills: available grants and schemes 2023

Energy bills are around double what they used to be. Here’s our guide to the grants and schemes offered by the government and UK energy suppliers to help consumers cope with energy costs.

Energy bills are around double what they used to be. Here’s our guide to the grants and schemes offered by the government and UK energy suppliers to help consumers cope with energy costs.

Written by
Sajni Shah
Utilities comparison expert
Last Updated
23 FEBRUARY 2024
5 min read
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Help for households facing high energy prices

Rocketing energy prices have hit British households hard. To tackle this, regulator Ofgem has capped the energy bill of a household with ‘typical’ consumption at £1,928 a year for January to March 2024. From 1 April until 30 June 2024, this will fall to £1,690.

But if you use more or less gas and electricity than the average, your bill will be higher or lower. The cap amount will be reviewed again in May.

The price cap has also been backed up by government help through a variety of schemes, most of which have come to an end as prices have stabilised.

Help from now on is being targeted at the most vulnerable – low-income households, pensioners and some disabled people. So who is entitled to help and what will they get?

What cost of living payments are available?

Some groups will receive payments to help with higher bills, including energy bills. These payments include:

  • £900 in total in three instalments in 2024 for households on means-tested benefits
  • £300 for pensioner households in the winter
  • £150 to people on certain disability benefits.

The first instalment of £301 for those on means-tested benefits, which began being paid from 25 April, has now been received by about 8 million people.

Who is eligible for the £900 cost of living payment?

You may be entitled to up to three cost of living payments of £301, £300 and £299 if you get any of the following benefits or tax credits on certain dates:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit.

The payments will be made separately from benefit payments.

You don't need to apply. If you’re eligible, you’ll be paid automatically in the same way you usually get your benefit or tax credits. This includes if you’re found to be eligible at a later date.

See more on GOV.UK about who is eligible for cost of living payments.

Other help available:

The Household Support Fund

Launched in October 2021, this fund is distributed by councils in England to help vulnerable families with expenses like food, clothing and utility bills. You don’t have to be receiving benefits to get help from your local council.

Grants and schemes to help those in fuel poverty

The most recent government figures revealed that around 3.26 million households in England were in fuel poverty in 2022. As daily living costs continue to rise, this number has increased, with many families finding themselves struggling to pay for the basics.

Fuel poverty is defined as households whose disposable income, after meeting the costs of their energy bills, would leave them below the poverty line.

According to Ofgem, many of these households are considered vulnerable consumers – including those who are elderly, disabled, chronically sick or low-income families on benefits with young children. However, the sharp increase in energy costs means that a far wider group will potentially be affected while prices remain high.

The following grants and schemes are available to help with energy bills for those receiving certain benefits or in fuel poverty:

Winter Fuel Payment

If you were born on or before 25 September 1956 (this date changes every year as more people reach pensioner age but has not yet been set for winter 2023/24), you could receive £100-£300 towards your winter fuel bills. Pensioners will receive an extra £150-£300 Pensioner Cost of Living Payment on top of the Winter Fuel Payment in in winter 2023/24.

This will be paid on top of any other one-off support a pensioner household is entitled to, for example pension credit or disability benefits.

Cold Weather Payments

These are payments to help cover heating costs during a very cold snap. Those who are eligible will get £25 for each consecutive seven-day period between 1 November and 31 March that the temperature drops below zero degrees. You are eligible for the payments if you get certain benefits such as Pension Credit, Universal Credit, Support for Mortgage Interest and Income Support.

Warm Home Discount Scheme

The Warm Home Discount is a one-off discount on your winter electricity bill between October and March. You may be able to get the discount on your gas bill instead if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity. If you’re getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, you should automatically qualify. If you’re on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme, you may also be eligible. Contact your supplier to find out.

ECO Scheme

The Energy Companies’ Obligation (ECO) is a government-backed scheme run by energy suppliers, with the aim of tackling fuel poverty and helping the most vulnerable.

The latest ECO scheme, ECO4, began on 1 April 2022 and will run for four years until 31 March 2026.

One part of the scheme is the Affordable Warmth Obligation. Eligible consumers on certain benefits can receive free installations, or subsidised costs, for:

  • Replacing or repairing their boiler
  • Cavity-wall and loft insulation
  • Draught-proofing
  • Other upgrades to their heating.

What can I do if I’m struggling to pay my energy bills?

In the first instance, call your energy supplier and let them know you’re struggling. They are duty-bound to treat you fairly and offer an affordable payment plan that will enable you to pay off your fuel debts in instalments. Many of them also run schemes that offer charitable grants that can help with debt.

See more on what to do if you can’t afford your energy bills.

Frequently asked questions

How is a household classed as being in fuel poverty?

The government classes a household as being in fuel poverty if:

  • The household’s energy efficiency rating is band D or below; and
  • Its disposable income after housing and fuel costs (for example, after paying the rent and energy bills) falls below the official poverty line.

Where can I get advice on saving energy to help cut my bills?

Check out our guide to energy saving tips.

For home improvements that could make your property cheaper to heat, see GOV.UK.

The Energy Saving Trust has lots of advice on saving energy in your home.

Home Energy Scotland has network of local advice centres covering all of Scotland. Expert advisors offer free, impartial advice on energy saving, keeping warm at home, renewable energy, greener travel, cutting water waste and more.

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