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Every month, through our Ask an Expert feature,
Turn2us users are given the chance to ask a panel of experts their
specific questions about issues relating to benefits, grants and
This month we asked for your questions about fuel poverty and
The official definition of fuel poverty is where a household has
to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel to maintain an
adequate level of warmth. There are currently an estimated 4.75
million households in fuel poverty in the UK.
Here are the answers to a selection of the questions we
Project Development Co-ordinator
National Energy Action (NEA) (link
opens in a new window)
Head of Development
Foundations - national body
for home improvement agency and handyperson services (link opens in
a new window).
Turn2us has launched its second annual Acting on Fuel Poverty
campaign to highlight the varying levels of fuel poverty across the
UK through our interactive map.
Visit the Fuel Poverty microsite
Jimmy Pugh: Unfortunately there are no
direct discounts available for users of heating oil. The cost of
purchasing heating oil as an individual is very expensive. One way
of reducing the cost is to check if there is an “oil cub” in
operation locally. Citizens
Advice have information on joining or establishing a local oil club
(link opens in a new window). You may also wish to
contact the Home Heat Helpline (link
opens in a new window) or Energy Saving Trust
(link opens in a new window) who can provide additional
information ways to improve your energy efficiency and reduce fuel
You might also want to consider whether you qualify for help
under the Warm
Home Discount Scheme (link opens in a new window) which is a
discount of £130 on your electricity bill. The discount may be
available to people who are:
Some electricity suppliers also offer the discount to vulnerable
people (e.g. those on a low income). Each supplier has their own
rules about who else can get the discount. There is a
list of suppliers who operate their own scheme on the Gov.UK
website (link opens in a new window).
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Jimmy Pugh: There is no specific help
available towards the cost of wood or coal for heating, but the
gentleman may be able to apply for other help. He should contact
the Home Heat Helpline (link
opens in a new window) which will check what he might qualify
for. He may be able to apply for a £130 discount on his
electricity bill under the Warm Home
Discount Scheme (link opens in a new window). He should
contact his electricity supplier to check their eligibility
criteria. He may qualify for the discount if his supplier accepts
that he is a 'vulnerable person'.
If he can't get support from any of these sources, he may
want to consider applying for a charitable grant to help with the
cost of fuel. There are a number of charitable funds which may be
able to help him out financially, depending on his background,
circumstances and needs. You can use the Turn2us Grants Search database to look for
suitable charitable funds.
Jimmy Pugh: To answer your question
properly, we would need to know more about your housing status.
There are different sorts of help available to owner occupiers,
private tenants and to tenants of registered social landlords (such
as housing associations).
You can call the Home Heat Helpline (link
opens in a new window) who will discuss your circumstances
and will be able to identify any grants available for help with
interior insulation measures.
Shaun Robinson: Depending on your circumstances,
you may be eligible for help under the new
Green Deal (link opens in a new window) and
Energy Company Obligation (link opens in a new
window) schemes which come into force from January 2013.
Energy Saving Trust helpline (link opens in a new
window) can tell you what support may be
If you are a tenant, the landlord must agree to any works being
done and they may have to pay for some or all of the works
If you are an owner occupier, then grant aid help may be
available if you are on a qualifying benefit. The
Energy Saving Trust helpline (link opens in a new window) will
be able to advise you. If you cannot get a grant, you may be able
to get a loan towards the work from the
Green Deal (link opens in a new window). Any loan from the
Green Deal would be paid off through your future electricity bills
- but the Green Deal rules are designed to ensure that the amount
you repay will always be less than the amount you will have saved
as a a result of the work done.
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Jimmy Pugh: Because you only qualify for
your State Retirement Pension from
November, you have missed out on the Winter
Fuel Payment for this year. Only people who reached State Retirement Pension Age by 23 September
2012 will receive the payment in 2012.
However, once you become entitled to your State Retirement
Pension and/or Pension Credit you should contact your
electricity supplier to see if you qualify for the Warm
Home Discount Scheme (link opens in a new window) rebate of
£130 through the your electricity supplier's 'broader group'
criteria. Gov.UK has a
list of electricity suppliers who operate their own scheme (link
opens in a new window).
Shaun Robinson: She should contact her local
Improvement Agency (link opens in a new window) who can advise
about grants and support available locally. If problems with
heating the home are causing health problems for anyone in the
family, an adviser from the Home Improvement Agency could
apply for a grant for the family from the Health Through
Warmth scheme, which helps vulnerable people whose health may
be adversely affected by cold living conditions.
If she cannot get support from any of these sources,
she may want to consider applying for a charitable grant to
help with the cost of repairing or replacing the boiler. There are
a number of charitable funds which may be able to help her out
financially, depending on her background, circumstances and needs.
You can use the Turn2us Grants Search
database to look for suitable charitable funds.
Shaun Robinson: You need to investigate if your
home is adequately insulated and draught proofed. Storage heaters
can be expensive if you need to top up with extra peak time rate
You could ask if your landlord would upgrade to gas central
You can also do a free
home energy check at the Energy Saving Trust website (link opens in
a new window).
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