Getting help with energy bills
Who is this section for?
Anyone concerned with how they will afford to pay their energy
What is in this section?
This section contains information about the various schemes and
grants which may be available to help towards the cost
of energy bills. You will also
find practical information on how to cope with
rising energy bills.
You can read through this information sheet, or jump directly to
the sections you want to read by clicking on these links:
Your energy company
If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, you
may worry that you energy supply will be cut off. This is always a
last resort for your energy company so it is vital to talk to
them straight away and try to work out a solution.
Energy company charitable trusts
Some energy companies have set up charitable trusts to help
customers pay for fuel arrears. Some of these are listed on the
Search or you can find out more by contacting your energy
Warm Home Discount
Your electricity supplier may have signed up to the Warm Homes
Discount Scheme which offers a one off discount of £135
on your electricity bill.
You qualify for this scheme if on the ‘qualifying day’ (20 July
2013) your supplier was part of the scheme, your or your partner’s
name was on the bill and you:
- Were aged 75 or over and getting the Guarantee Credit element
of Pension Credit (even if you get
Savings Credit), or
- Were under 75 years and only getting the Guarantee Credit
element of Pension Credit (you won’t qualify if you also get
Savings Credit), or
- Fit the 'broader group' of vulnerable people that your supplier
assists under the scheme. This can vary depending on supplier but
eligibility usually involves being in receipt of certain benefits;
having annual income below a certain amount and spending more than
10% of it on fuel; or having a mental or physical disability or
The deadline to claim for winter 2013 to 2014 for people in
groups 1 and 2 is 14 March 2014. For people in group 3, this
depends on the supplier.
If you think you may be eligible and have not received
this discount automatically, you should contact your supplier.
See the Gov.UK
website information on the Warm Home Discount (link opens in a
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Energy company Priority Services Registers
If you are of pensionable age, living with a
disability, chronic illness or visual or hearing
impairment (or someone in your household is), ask
your energy supplier if you are eligible for its Priority
Service Register (link opens in a new window).
This provides you with free extra services and may help protect
you from disconnection if you struggle to pay your energy bills if
your supplier has signed up to the Energy UK Safety net scheme.
Priority Services Register services include:
- Advance notice of planned power cuts for customers who depend
on their energy supply for medical reasons
- Priority in an emergency (this could include providing
alternative heating and cooking facilities in the event of supply
- Password protection scheme to provide reassurance that callers,
for example meter readers, are genuine
- Bill nominee scheme – customers can ask their supplier to send
their bill to anybody (for example a family member or carer) who
has agreed to receive it
- Prepayment meters – if a customer is unable reach to their
prepayment meter they can asked for it to be moved. A Citizens
Advice bureau worker has also advised us that he has managed to
arrange for a standard credit gas meter of a client who uses a
wheelchair to be moved at no cost to him by the energy company.
This was obstructing the client's entry into and exit from his
- Quarterly meter reading services (if no person occupying the
premises is able to read the meter)
- Accessible information – suppliers can provide customers with
account and bill information in an accessible format, e.g. with
larger print or braille
- Annual gas appliance safety checks for homeowners. (If you do
not own your own home your landlord is responsible for ensuring
that any gas appliances, fittings and flues are safe)
Suppliers are also prohibited from disconnecting premises
occupied by a customer eligible for the Priority Services
Register during the winter months (1 October - 31 March).
The Energy UK Safety Net scheme
If your supplier has signed up the Energy UK Safety Net
scheme, they have pledged to never knowingly disconnect a
vulnerable customer at any time of year.
Defining vulnerability has to be done on a case-by-case basis by
the supplier as each customer's needs will be different.
However suppliers who are part of the scheme have agreed a
common definition that provides a framework for assessing a
customer's potential vulnerability:
“A customer is vulnerable if for reasons of age, health,
disability or severe financial insecurity, they are unable to
safeguard their personal welfare or the personal welfare of other
members of the household."
Examples of customers who might be considered
vulnerable under these terms include households where there is:
- An elderly person
- Someone who is disabled or has a long-term medical
condition and is unable to support themselves or is dependent on
medical equipment that is operated by electricity (such as a stair
lift, wheelchair, defibrillator or dialysis machine)
- a young child.
Suppliers may also work with charities and support agencies when
they identify signs of vulnerability in a household.
If you are on a low income, you may be able to get help with
energy bills or debts from a charitable fund, depending on
your personal circumstances, background and needs. You can use our
Grants Search to look for any that may be
able to help you.
Contacting your energy company is the first step if you find
yourself in debt with energy bills. See Your energy company information section
for more information.
If you need help handling your energy debts, My Money Steps (link opens in
a new window) is a free and easy to use online debt advice
service from Money Advice Trust which runs National Debtline
(freephone 0808 808 4000).
For more information on debt in general, see the Turn2us Debt information page
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Free or subsidised energy efficiency
Making your home more energy efficient can make it warmer and
reduce energy bills. There are several schemes that may be able to
help you with energy efficiency - from the Government, energy
suppliers, local councils and other sources.
For more information, see our
information sheet on Energy Efficiency Grants
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Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments
The following Government schemes may be
available to you if you are on certain benefits:
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Turn2us would like to thank Alastair Wilcox of Motherwell
Citizens Advice Bureau and the representatives of Energy Action
Scotland, Foundations and Nest for peer reviewing this information
Last updated: 3 February 2014