Help with your energy bills
Energy companies provide a huge amount of help and support for vulnerable customers, especially the elderly and those on key benefits.
Anyone who is worried about paying their bill or managing their energy use should contact their energy company.
There is help available ranging from regulation, voluntary initiatives and industry-led initiatives to Government schemes and more.
Regulation, Voluntary initiatives and industry-led schemes
- Trust funds - Last year (2014/15) obligated suppliers also spent in excess of £15million on direct debt assistance to help households reduce or cancel energy debts via suppliers’ trust funds.
- Energy Best Deal - Funding the delivery of bespoke energy advice via Citizens Advice’s Energy Best Deal and Energy Best Deal Extra advice sessions. This year the schemes are being funded by five suppliers who are collectively providing Citizens Advice with £1.4million.
- ECO - Britain’s eleven largest energy suppliers have an obligation to deliver energy efficiency measures to householders via the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO). As of the end of September 2015, provisional figures show that obligated suppliers had installed 1,591,822 measures under ECO since the scheme began in January 2013.
- Ability to Pay - All electricity and gas suppliers are required by their supply licence to take into account each individual customer’s ability to pay when agreeing repayment arrangements and must follow Ofgem’s key principles of ability to pay.
- Safety Net - Britain’s six largest energy suppliers have signed up to Energy UK’s Safety Net for Vulnerable Customers. Under the Safety Net, signatories have pledged to never knowingly disconnect a vulnerable customer at any time of year, where for reasons of age, health, disability or severe financial insecurity, that customer is unable to safeguard their personal welfare or the personal welfare of other members of the household. Suppliers’ compliance with the Safety Net is independently audited on an annual basis by PwC. Find out more information about disconnection.
- Debt Assignment Protocol - Working with the regulator, Ofgem, ten energy suppliers have voluntarily taken steps to change how they operate the Debt Assignment Protocol (DAP). The changes aim to make it easier and simpler for customers who use a prepayment meter and are repaying a debt of £500 or less per fuel to switch. Find out more information about the changes.
- Energy Switch Guarantee - The guarantee has been designed to allow more consumers to benefit from the deal which best suits them. It sets out ten commitments for the switching process to promote: confidence; understanding; and willingness to switch. Find out more information on the Energy Switch Guarantee website
The UK and devolved national governments provide help to customers worried about how they will heat their home when it gets cold. Current help includes:
- Winter Fuel Payment - if you have reached the qualifying age you may get help with keeping warm in winter. This can be between £100 and £300 depending on your situation. Find out how to apply for Winter Fuel Payments.
- Cold Weather Payments - one-off payments worth £25 for the over 60s and £100 for the over 80s are paid automatically in severe weather conditions. This is when the temperature goes below zero for seven days in a row. Find out more about Cold Weather Payments.
- Energy Assistance Package (Scotland) - the scheme helps customers cut bills, maximise incomes and improve their home's energy efficiency. For more information see the Energy Assistance Package website.
- Nest (Wales) - the scheme gives free help and advice about benefits, making sure customers are on the right fuel tariff, managing money, and schemes across Wales that offer home improvements at no cost or low cost to customers. Find out more about the Nest scheme at their website.
- Warm Homes Scheme and Warm Homes Plus (Northern Ireland) - £850 grants are available for energy efficiency and heating measures to pensioners, disabled people and low-income home owners claiming certain benefits. The scheme gives grants of up to £4,300 for pensioners and low-income households claiming certain benefits to help with the costs of installing new heating systems. Find out more about the scheme at the Warm Homes Scheme website.
- Warm Home Discount - In April 2011 the Government introduced a new scheme that will be funded by energy companies, called the Warm Home Discount. It is aimed towards pensioners and vulnerable customers, and provides an automatic discount off their energy bill. Find out more about the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
Other schemes that can help
- Debt Advice - Energy suppliers also have a number of bilateral funding arrangements to fund debt advice through the likes of My Money Steps, StepChange and Citizens Advice. In many cases these arrangements will be tailored to the needs of the specific customer base following detailed analysis and supplier experience.
- Extra Help - Suppliers have links with a range of local organisations, including Citizens Advice, Local Authorities, Housing Associations, charities and advice agencies and work with these organisations to resolve customers’ difficulties