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Help with energy bills: available grants and schemes 2022

Energy bills are soaring. 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 soaring. 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
Sofia Hutson
Last Updated
13 JANUARY 2023
6 min read
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Help for households amid rising energy prices

Rocketing energy prices have hit British households hard. To tackle this, the government has announced an Energy Price Guarantee, which took effect on 1 October 2022. This will put the energy bill of a household with ‘typical’ consumption at £2,500 a year, rising to £3,000 in April 2023. But if you use more or less gas and electricity than the average, your bill will be higher or lower.

As well as the Energy Price Guarantee scheme, the government has also put in place a variety of measures to support consumers with their energy bills. These include:

A £400 energy bill grant

From October 2022, domestic electricity customers in Great Britain are receiving 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

Between April and November 2022, households in England in council tax bands A to D received a one-off £150 rebate directly from their local authorities.

A £650 one-off payment for lowest income households

More than 8 million households on means-tested benefits have received an extra £650 in 2022 from the government, paid in two instalments in July and autumn.

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.

Talk to your local council to see if you’re eligible for help.

£900 cost of living payment

From spring 2023, people on means-tested benefits, including Universal Credit, Pension Credit and tax credits, will get £900 paid directly into their bank accounts in three instalments.

£150 disability payment

This will be made to over six million disabled people in summer 2023.

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 following grants and schemes are available to help with energy bills for those 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), 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 2022 and £300 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. 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.

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 B, 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.

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.

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.