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Help with energy bills and the cost of living

Some help is only there during the winter. Hardship funds and the household support fund could help at any time of year.

This is an overview of the help available:

  • help with energy debts from a hardship fund

  • household support fund if you cannot pay bills

  • £150 warm home discount over winter

  • winter fuel payments if you're pension age

  • cold weather payments if you get benefits

The help you can get depends on your situation.

Everyone who could get a cost of living payment in 2023 and 2024 should have had this extra money by now.

There are no more cost of living payments this year.

Report a missing cost of living payment on GOV.UK

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.

Household support fund

You can apply to the household support fund through your local council if you cannot afford energy bills, food or other essential items.

Get emergency money help from your local council

  1. Find your local council website on GOV.UK

  2. Search 'household support' or 'local welfare scheme' on your council's website

  3. Phone, email or visit their office in person if you cannot find any information online

£150 warm home discount

You can get £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 in October 2024.

You do not need to apply. If you can get the discount, your energy supplier applies the discount to your bill over the winter.

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.

How much you get depends 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.

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

You need to be getting pension credit, universal credit, income-related ESA, income support, income-based JSA or support for mortgage interest (SMI) to get these payments.

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.

The Trussell Trust Help through Hardship helpline can give you personalised support with money, benefits and mental health.

Last updated: 4 April 2024

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