Help with energy bills and the cost of living

What help you can get depends on your situation.

This is an overview of the help available:

  • help with energy debts from a hardship fund

  • £300 cost of living payment

  • £150 warm home discount

  • winter fuel payments if you're pension age

  • cold weather payments if you get benefits

Beware of scams

Scammers pretend to be your energy supplier, the council, DWP or Ofgem.

They might offer you a discount, refund or payment if you give your details.

Do not give personal information or bank details over the phone or internet.

Citizens Advice tells you how to check if something might be a scam.

Help with energy debts

If you're struggling with a bill or already in debt, check your supplier's website to find out how they can help:

Most energy suppliers can offer some help to their customers. If your supplier is not listed above you should still ask them for help.

If your own supplier cannot help, you could get support from British Gas Energy Trust.

Your supplier can help you get free debt and energy advice through a debt charity.

The Breathing Space scheme can pause debt recovery while you get free debt advice.

£300 cost of living payment

You will get this if you got any of these benefits between 18 August and 17 September 2023:

  • universal credit (UC)

  • pension credit

  • income support

  • child or working tax credit

  • income based jobseeker's allowance (JSA)

  • income related employment and support allowance (ESA)

Most people should get this payment by 19 November 2023.

It's a separate extra payment on top of your normal benefits. You do not need to apply for it.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has said a further payment of £299 will be paid in spring 2024.

£150 warm home discount

This scheme can take £150 off your electricity bill in winter if you either:

  • get pension credit guarantee

  • have a low income

Your energy supplier must be part of the scheme. The bill must be in your name or your partner's name.

It's not a cash payment and does not affect your benefits.

How to get the discount

The scheme reopens on 16 October 2023.

You should get the warm home discount applied to your electricity bill automatically if you are eligible.

Everyone who gets the discount should get a letter by early January 2024.

If you think you are eligible for the discount but do not get a letter by then, contact the Warm Home Discount Scheme helpline on 0800 030 9322.

You must do this before 29 February 2024.

Check GOV.UK for energy suppliers who are part of the scheme.

Winter fuel payments if you're pension age

You can get a winter fuel payment if you were born on or before 25 September 1957.

Your winter fuel payment this year includes a pensioner cost of living payment.

You can get between £250 and £600 to help pay your heating bills depending on:

  • your age

  • benefits you get

  • if you live alone or with other people who qualify

Your winter fuel payments should be paid in November or December if you get a state pension or some other low income or disability benefits.

Check GOV.UK updates on winter fuel payments.

If you get universal credit, you have to apply for your winter fuel payment.

Call the winter fuel payment centre on 0800 731 0160

Cold weather payments

If the average temperature in your area is recorded or forecast as below freezing for at least a week, you could get a £25 cold weather payment.

The cold weather payment scheme runs from 1 November to 31 March so is now closed.

Cold weather payments are made automatically. You do not have to apply.

Check GOV.UK guidance on cold weather payments.

Switching energy suppliers

There have not been many deals around because of high energy costs.

This is starting to change so you might see more deals advertised.

Citizens Advice explains things to think about before switching energy suppliers.

You do not need your landlord's permission to switch unless they pay your energy bills.

Let them know who the new supplier is when you move out.

Changing from prepayment to a credit meter

You can ask your supplier to switch to a credit meter if you think it's a better choice for you.

Citizens Advice explains how to change from a prepayment to a credit meter.

You do not need your landlord's permission to switch from a prepayment meter to a credit meter. You may have to change the meter back to a prepayment meter before you move out.

Still need help?

StepChange gives advice on dealing with debts for gas and electricity.

Find out about utility bills and your rights if you're renting privately.

Last updated: 30 October 2023

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