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Help with energy bills: available grants and schemes 2022

If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills, there are ways to get the financial help you need.

Here’s our guide to the grants and schemes offered by the government and UK energy suppliers, to help with energy bills.

If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills, there are ways to get the financial help you need.

Here’s our guide to the grants and schemes offered by the government and UK energy suppliers, to help with energy bills.

Sofia Hutson
Utilities expert
9
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Last Updated 15 SEPTEMBER 2022

Help for households to help with rising energy prices

Rocketing energy prices have hit British households hard. To tackle this, the government has announced a new Energy Price Guarantee to take effect from 1 October. This will put the energy bill of a household with ‘typical’ consumption at £2,500 a year. But if you use more or less gas and electricity than the average, your bill will be higher or lower. There may also be a difference in the standing charge you pay, depending on where you live.

Despite this new guarantee, energy prices will still increase - but by around £1,000 a year less than had been originally predicted for the average household. In the summer of 2021, the Ofgem price cap was £1,138 a year – this winter under the price guarantee it will be £2,500 – more than double.

With such a steep rise, households on tight budgets may be pushed into debt. So what help is available if you're struggling?

As well as the new Energy Price Guarantee scheme, the government has already put in place a variety of measures including:

A £400 energy bill grant

From October 2022, domestic electricity customers in Great Britain will receive a £400 grant paid in six monthly instalments of around £66 to help with their energy bills. The grant will not need to be repaid. How you get the money will depend on your supplier, how you pay for your electricity and whether you use a pre-payment meter.

If you are on a direct debit, some suppliers will credit the money to your bill, while others will bill you for the full amount and pay the money straight into your bank account.

If you pay your bill on receipt, you'll get the money paid automatically to your bank account in the first week of every month.

If you are a traditional meter prepayment customer, you'll be sent a voucher once a month via text, email or post – which you can use to top up as normal in a shop or Post Office. You'll have three months to redeem each voucher. Most vouchers will be able to be used for gas or electricity.

If you’re a smart meter prepayment customer, the money will be applied as a credit to your meter in the first week of each month. This may be an issue for some people, as the credit is for electricity use not gas. Some suppliers are making the credit transferrable, but not all. If it’s causing you problems, contact your supplier directly to see how they can help.

A £150 council tax rebate

From April this year, households in England that are in council tax bands A-D should have received a one-off £150 rebate directly from their local authorities. The rebate, available to 80% of households in England, doesn’t have to be repaid. If you haven't had the payment, contact your council directly.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have also provided similar support for households.

Find out more about the Council Tax Rebate in England

A £650 one-off payment for lowest income households

More than 8 million households on means-tested benefits will receive an extra £650 in 2022 from the government, paid in two instalments in July and autumn. To qualify for this, you must be receiving at least one of the following:

  • Universal Credit
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Pension Credit

A £1bn household support fund

Local authorities have received money from the government to support low-income households who need help with the cost of living. A third of the funding will be ring-fenced to support families with children, while another third will be dedicated to pensioners.

This ensures the people who need it most will continue to receive vital support to meet essential household costs. Talk to your local council to see if you’re eligible for help.

Grants and schemes to help those in fuel poverty

The most recent Government figures revealed that around 3.16 million households in England were in fuel poverty – and this was for 2020 before prices began ramping up. As daily living costs continue to rise, this number is sure to increase, 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 UK energy regulator 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 definition of fuel poverty differs between the devolved nations, but the following grants and schemes are available to help with energy bills for those in fuel poverty:

Winter Fuel Payment

The Winter Fuel Payment is a tax-free annual payment to help the elderly with their heating costs. If you were born on or before 25 September 1956 (this date changes every year as more people reach pensioner age), you could receive £100-£300 towards your winter fuel bills. Pensioners will receive an extra £150-£300 one-off ‘Pensioner Cost of Living Payment’ on top of the Winter Fuel Payment in 2022.

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. Eligible households currently receive between £200-£300, so the payment will represent at least double the support for this winter.  Any money you get is tax-free and won't affect any other benefits you receive.

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. The government says it intends to expand eligibility for the scheme this year and increase the rebate from £140 to £150 for more than 3 million vulnerable households. If you’re eligible, the rebate will be directly credited to your electricity account by your energy supplier. You may be able to get the discount on your gas bill instead if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity. Contact your supplier to find out.

Details of 2022-2023 scheme will be announced before the scheme restarts in November.

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.

Charitable trusts and energy grants

The following energy suppliers offer grants and schemes, ranging from white goods costs, to helping fuel poverty customers clear their energy debts. Typically, the funds have a set amount of money each year and when they have given it all away, the fund closes until the following year. It's a good idea to keep an eye on opening dates for the funds and apply early if you need help. Sometimes you may be able to register your interest in advance.

British Gas Energy Trust0121 348 7797
This provides grants for domestic gas and electricity debts owed to British Gas and other suppliers. It also provides a number of organisations across the country with free, impartial fuel debt and money advice services. This year’s Individuals and Families fund for energy grant applications is open to anyone with an energy debt between £250 and £750. You don't even have to be a British Gas customer.

The British Gas Energy Support Fund for British Gas customers only is also now open.

Scottish Power Hardship Fund0808 800 0128
Helps vulnerable customers clear or reduce their energy arrears by crediting their ScottishPower energy account. But you will have to apply to the fund and prove hardship. You'll need to contact a debt charity before you apply.

OVO Energy Fund0800 0699 831
Can provide a one-off payment to vulnerable customers who are in at least £150 in debt, earn less than £16,190 per year and are unable to pay for their energy.

E.ON Next Energy Fund0345 052 000
Offers grants to help vulnerable E.ON customers pay their energy bill arrears, as well as offering support towards replacement white goods.

SSE01733 421 075
SSE partners with Charis to offer grants and support to domestic customers who are experiencing hardship and struggling to pay their gas and electricity bills.

EDF Energy0333 009 6992
EDF also partners with Charis to administer grants to customers who are struggling with household energy debt.

What other help is available?

Those in vulnerable situations can get extra help and support from their supplier and network operator by signing up to the Priority Services Register.

By registering, you may be eligible for a range of free services including:

  • Advance notice and priority support in the event of a power cut
  • Identification scheme to reassure you that callers acting on behalf of the company, such as meter readers, are genuine
  • Meter-reading services
  • Accessible information in large print or braille format

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

If you’re not eligible for a grant or scheme, there are still things you can do if you can’t afford your 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. You can ask for:

  • A review of your payments and debt repayments
  • Payment breaks or reductions
  • More time to pay
  • Access to hardship funds
  • Advice on how to use less energy
  • Priority Service registration – a free support service if you are in a vulnerable situation.

If you’re not sure what to say to your provider, read the government-backed MoneyHelper guide to talking to your creditor.

If you’re in a lot of debt, your supplier may want to install a prepayment meter to help you manage your energy costs. But the price you pay for your power may be more expensive this way.

If debts are a problem, you might also want to seek independent help from a debt charity such as StepChange or The National Debtline. And if you’re not happy with the support you’re getting from your energy supplier, you should contact your local Citizens Advice – they will be able to tell you what to do next. You can also use MoneyHelper to find a free debt adviser near you, on the phone or online with its debt advice tool.

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 B and 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.

In its latest research briefing on fuel poverty across the UK, the government estimated that 13% of households in England, 25% in Scotland, 12% in Wales and 18% in Northern Ireland are classed as being in fuel poverty. However, UK charity National Energy Action predicts that rising energy prices could lead to an increase of fuel-poor households in England of more than 50%.

What are the main causes of fuel poverty?

There are three main factors that determine if a household is in fuel poverty: 

  1. Its income.
  2. Its fuel costs – how much it spends to ‘reasonably’ heat the home, in relation to energy prices and the energy price cap
  3. Energy consumption – which is affected by how energy-efficient a home is. 

Government and energy supplier grants and schemes aim to help the most vulnerable to heat their homes enough to stay warm and healthy. But industry regulator Ofgem has highlighted the growing number of customers facing financial difficulties and may need support with their energy bills.

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

Check out our guide to energy saving tips.

You can also look at Simple Energy Advice, the Government-endorsed website for information on reducing energy bills, energy efficiency improvements you can make to your home and information about available grants and funds.

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.