Homeowners are desperate for available funding schemes to help alleviate the 54% increase in the energy price cap. Unfortunately, the Chancellor’s Spring Statement included no new announcements to help households with their energy bills – other than a 5c cut in fuel duty per litre, effective until March 2023.
The Statement, however, did reveal a cut in VAT for energy-efficient home improvement measures and a doubling of the Household Support Fund for vulnerable households.
In addition to this, Sunak did reiterate his promise to help (up to £350 per household). This includes:
£150 council tax rebate
Households in council tax bands A-D (around 80% of households in the UK) will get a £150 council tax rebate in April 2022 to assist with soaring energy prices.
Those who pay council tax via Direct Debit can get their rebate fairly quickly, as it is paid back to the account to which the Direct Debit is linked. However, if you do not pay via Direct Debit, you can make a claim and receive your rebate money back, although it might take longer as your council will have to contact you directly.
You can find your local council’s contact details here.
£200 energy bill rebate
All households will get £200 off their energy bills in October since energy prices are set to increase further during this period. This rebate will be paid at a £40 rate per year for five years, beginning in April 2023. Unfortunately, this rebate doesn’t cover Northern Ireland.
Extra £144 million for those on low incomes
As well as a £500M household support fund announced – now doubled to £1B – a discretionary £144 million fund is now available to provide support for vulnerable individuals on low incomes who do not pay council tax. Assistance is also available to those in council tax bands E-H with an annual household income of less than £79,000 – find out more here.
You can spread the costs of your energy bills
Ofgem has clearly explained that if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills, you should contact your supplier as soon as possible. Your supplier is obliged to work with you to agree on a payment plan you can afford.
Here are some of the following things you can inquire about:
- Review of your payments and debt repayments
- Payment breaks or reductions
- More time to pay
- Access to hardship funds
- Priority Service Registration – this is a free support scheme if you are in a vulnerable situation
If you still can’t agree on a way to pay your bills after contacting your energy supplier, you can get help from Citizens Advice.
How can you get financial help from your supplier?
Many schemes and grants are being offered by energy companies, all of which provide help with energy bills. These companies include E.on Energy Fund, E.on Next Energy, EDF Energy Customer Support Fund, Ovo Energy Fund, Scottish Power Hardship Fund and British Gas Energy Trust (you don’t have to be a customer to be eligible for help from the British Gas Energy Trust).
Those seeking financial help from suppliers will need to speak to a debt adviser first and complete a budget exhibiting their income and expenditure. You can find a few of these services here:
Be sure to check the eligibility criteria. Those in the most need are prioritised first.