What benefits can I get to help with heating costs?
Temperatures are expected to plummet this week, with snowfall expected across some parts of the UK. There’s already a frosty bite in the air and we’re wrapping our coats that little bit tighter as we scurry between buildings. When we’re at home, though, we want to be warm. If you’re struggling to afford your energy bill so you can keep warm this winter, there are a number of grants and benefits available through the government and energy providers to help you.
Winter Fuel Payment
The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual one-off payment between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills.
The benefit is usually paid automatically to those on a State Pension or another social security benefit (though not the Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit). The payment is tax-free and doesn’t affect other benefits.
Normally payments will be made during November and December; you should get the money by 13 January 2020. You will receive a letter from the office that pays your benefits telling you your estimated payment date.
If you are not eligible for an automatic payment, then you can make a claim. If claiming for this winter, you’ll have until 31 March 2020 to submit a claim.
In order to qualify, you must have been born on or before 5 April 1954 and have lived in the UK for at least one day during the qualifying week (16 to 22 September 2019 for this winter). You may still be eligible, even if you haven’t lived in the UK during the qualifying week, if you live in Switzerland or a European Economic Area (exceptions apply) or you have a genuine and sufficient link to the UK.
Below is a table showing how much you’ll get if you’re eligible.
|Circumstance||Born between 23/09/39 - 05/04/54||Born on or before 22/09/39|
|You qualify and live alone (or none of the people you live with qualify)||£200||£300|
|You qualify and live with someone under 80 who also qualifies||£100||£200|
|You qualify and live with someone 80 or over who also qualifies||£100||£150|
|You qualify, live in a care home and do not get certain benefits||£100||£150|
|You qualify, get one of the benefits listed*, and live alone (or none of the people you live with qualify)||£200||£300|
|You qualify and live with someone who also gets one of the benefits listed*||£200 (Only one of you will get the benefit)||£300 (Only one of you will get the benefit)|
|You qualify, live in a care home and get one of the benefits listed*||Nil||Nil|
*Pension Credit, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support
For more information, visit the Government’s Winter Fuel Payment website.
Cold Weather Payment
If the weather is considered to be very cold, meaning that the temperature in your area is or is forecast to be 0 degrees Celsius or below for 7 consecutive days, then you may be eligible for the Cold Weather Payment.
You may be eligible for the payment if you receive at least one of the following benefits:
- Pension Credit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Universal Credit
- Support for Mortgage Interest
The amount paid is £25 for each period of cold weather from 1 November through to 31 March. After each cold weather period, you should receive the money automatically within 14 days. This will be paid into the same bank account as your other benefits. The Cold Weather Payment does not affect your other benefits.
For more information, visit the Government’s Cold Weather Payment website.
To check if a payment is due in your area, you can look on the Department for Work & Pensions Cold Weather Payment website.
Warm Home Discount Scheme
You could get a one-off discount of £140 from your electricity bill for winter 2019-20 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
To qualify for this discount, you must either get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or be on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme.
If you live in a park (mobile) home, the way that you apply for the Warm Home Discount Scheme is different. Check the Park Homes Warm Home Discount website for details.
If you get the Guarantee Credit Element of Pension Credit (‘core group’)
You will qualify for the discount if the following applied to you on 7 July 2019:
- Your energy supplier was part of the scheme (you can check the list on the Government’s Warm Home Discount Scheme website here)
- Your name, or your partner’s, was on the energy bill
- You were getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension credit (even if you get Savings Credit as well)
You will get a letter sometime between October and December 2019 telling you how to get the discount. You must call the helpline by 28 February 2020 to confirm your details, and your energy supplier will apply the discount to your bill by 31 March 2020.
If you do not receive a letter by the end of December and you think you’re eligible for the discount, call the helpline on 0800 731 0214.
If you’re on a low income (‘broader group’)
You may be able to apply directly to your energy supplier for the Warm Home Discount Scheme if:
- Your energy supplier if part of the scheme (you can check the list on the Government’s Warm Home Discount Scheme website here)
- You’re on a low income
- You get certain means-tested benefits
You’ll need to stay with your current energy provider until the discount is paid in order to qualify.
Your energy supplier will apply the discount to your bill by 31 March 2020.
For more information, visit the Government’s Warm Home Discount Scheme website.
The Green Deal
The Green Deal provides help if you make home energy saving improvements such as installing insulation (solid wall, cavity wall or loft insulation), a heating system upgrade, double-glazing, draught-proofing or renewable energy sources (such as solar panels or heat pumps).
The scheme will loan you money to pay for the improvements and you repay the loan out of the money that you save on your energy bills. The loan repayments are added to your energy bills.
The Green Deal applies to individuals and businesses. You must get your property assessed by an authorised Green Deal assessor in order to use the Green Deal. You may have to pay a fee for the assessment, which will be told you about in advance.
For more information, visit the Government’s Green Deal website.
Energy Company Obligation: Home Heating Cost Reduction Obligation
Medium and large energy suppliers in Great Britain are obligated to promote the installation of insulation and heating measures to help individuals save on their energy bills. This is part of a government initiative to tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions.
If you receive certain benefits, or you are a core group customer of the Warm Home Discount Scheme (this group will be eligible from 2020), you might be eligible for part or all of the cost of energy-saving home improvements from your energy supplier. This will help you pay for items such as insulation and repairs to, or replacement of, your boiler.
To find out more, visit the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets’ (ofgem) Energy Company Obligation website here.
To work out the changes you could make to your home to make it more energy efficient and help save you money on energy bills, visit the Simple Energy Advice website for impartial advice.
You can also contact any of the obligated energy suppliers to find out how they may be able to help you. A list of obligated supplier contact details can be found on the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (ofgem) website here.
National Concessionary Fuel Scheme
If you used to be employed by the British Coal Corporation (BCC) or the National Coal Board (NCB) then you could qualify for free solid fuel or receive a cash allowance. The scheme also covers widows and widowers of ex-employees.
If eligible, you’ll receive a delivery of solid fuel every 4 or 5 weeks, or you’ll receive a cash allowance paid every three months.
For more information, visit the Government’s National Concessionary Fuel Scheme website.
Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive
The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive is a government-scheme to encourage households to use renewable heating technology. If you do not already have these renewable technologies in place in your home, you may be eligible to access finance to overcome the barrier of the upfront cost in making the switch to a greener energy supply. Once approved for the scheme, and if participants remain in the scheme, quarterly payments are made over seven years.
For more information, visit the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets’ (ofgem) Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive website.
Grants available to pay off your energy debts
You may be able to access a grant from a charitable trust to pay for your bills if you are in debt with your energy supplier.
The British Gas Energy Trust offer grants and schemes to anyone, even if you are not their customer.
Energy suppliers who offer grants specifically for their customers. These are their funds:
- npower Energy Fund
- Ovo Energy Fund
- E.on Energy Fund
- EDF Energy Trust
- SSE (Southern Electric) Priority Assistance Fund
Legal advice for benefits
If you need guidance or help with dealing with benefits, contact QualitySolicitors on 08082747557 or find your local QualitySolicitors firm here.