You are now leaving the Turn2us site. Turn2us is not responsible for content on third party sites.


Energy schemes

If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, find out about the various schemes and grants that may be available to help towards the cost of energy.

1. Help from your energy company

If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, you may worry that your 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 Turn2us Grants Search (Choose 'Fuel Poverty' in the 'Other issues' filter for a quick way to see them) or you can find out more by contacting your energy supplier directly.

One Citizens Advice adviser told Turn2us that: "Many people who find themselves in dispute or financial difficulties with their energy supplier are on uncompetitive tariffs or sub-optimal payment or billing methods."

If you find it difficult to contact your energy company

Many people find it difficult to approach their energy company when they are struggling to pay bills. If you are unsure, you may find it helpful to talk to a energy advice organisations, such as those listed on the Energy schemes: Useful resources page.

 


 

2. Priority Services Register (Energy companies)

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 Services Register.

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 might 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 disconnection)

  • 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 their prepayment meter they can ask for it to be moved

  • 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 to 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.

3. Warm Home Discount

Your electricity supplier may have signed up to the Warm Homes Discount Scheme which offers a one-off discount of £140 (for the Winter period 2017-18) from your electricity bill.

Who qualifies for the Warm Home Discount?

In 2017-18, you can qualify for a warm home discount if on 9 July 2017:

  • your supplier was part of the scheme, and

  • you or your partner's name was on the bill, and

  • you fit into either the:

    • Core group: If you are receiving the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (even if you also get the Savings Credit) you should be automatically considered for the Warm Home Discount. The Government should write to you in Autumn or Winter 2017.

    • Broader group: The criteria for inclusion depends on the supplier but you may be eligible if you are in receipt of certain benefits; your annual income is below a certain amount and you are spending more than 10% of it on fuel; or you have a disability or illness. You will have to claim if you fit into the broader group, so contact your supplier for more information.

How is the Warm Home Discount paid?

If you qualify, the Warm Home Discount will appear as a credit on your electricity bill sometime between October 2017 and March 2018. If you use a pre-pay or 'pay as you go' electricity meter, it may be paid to you through a top-up voucher but check with your supplier.

Please note: if you apply for a Warm Home Discount but then change your supplier before this has been credited to your account, you will no longer be eligible to receive the discount from your original supplier. You will have to make an application to your new supplier.

The Warm Home Discount and effect on other benefits that help with energy costs

Getting the Warm Home Discount does not affect your eligibility for Cold Weather Payments or Winter Fuel Payments.

More information on the Warm Home Discount

See the Gov.UK website information on the Warm Home Discount. This includes a list of suppliers that have signed up to the initiative with links to their websites.

4. Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments

The following Government schemes may be available to you if you are on certain benefits:

Winter Fuel Payments – This is a payment made to people over Pension Credit age to help with fuel costs.

Cold Weather Payments – If you are on a low income you may be eligible for these if the average temperature in your area falls to 0° Celsius or below for seven days in a row.

5. Energy bill debts

Contact your energy company

Contacting your energy company is the first step if you find yourself in debt with energy bills. See the Turn2us help from your energy company section for more details.

Charitable funds

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 the Turn2us Grants Search to look for any that may be able to help you.

Debt advice organisations

If you need help handling your energy debts, you can seek assistance from debt advice agencies listed on our Turn2us Debt information page.

You can also use the My Money Steps tool which is a free and easy to use online debt advice tool provided by the Money Advice Trust.

6. Free or subsidised energy efficiency measures

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 the Turn2us Energy Efficiency Grants section.

7. Energy schemes: Useful resources

The energy regulator Ofgem's website has information and support for consumers.

The Citizens Advice website has information to help you get the best energy deals, apply for energy-related grants and discounts, make energy efficient improvements and much more. (Make sure you read the information relating to the country of the UK you live in by selecting it from the drop down menu on the page)

Citizens Advice Consumer Service can advise you on all matters relating to energy supply, including debt advice and access to cheaper deals. If you live in Northern Ireland, the service is Consumerline.

The Energy Saving Trust website has detailed information on how to save energy at home.  If you live in Scotland, see the Energy Saving Trust Scotland website.

The Health Through Warmth scheme (HTW) was set up in 2000, working together with National Energy Action (NEA), the national fuel poverty charity, and the NHS. HTW aims to improve levels of warmth, comfort and quality of life for vulnerable people who have cold-related illnesses and need help with the installation of heating and insulation measures or repairs to existing systems or appliances which they can’t afford themselves. HTW is available across England and Wales to vulnerable people who meet our eligibility criteria.

National Energy Action is a national charity which aims to eradicate fuel poverty and campaigns for greater investment in energy efficiency to help those who are poor and vulnerable. 

Turn2us Grants and subsidies for energy efficiency information

Turn2us Fuel Poverty information

Turn2us Grants Search Charitable funds that come up when you search on Fuel Poverty in 'Other issues'

Acknowledgement

Turn2us would like to thank Alastair Wilcox of Motherwell and Wishaw Citizens Advice Bureau and the representatives of Energy Action Scotland, Foundations and Nest for peer reviewing this information page.

Last updated: 8 August 2016