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Baker Homes Blog

Support available for homes struggling to afford energy bills

Posted by Emma Jones on 09/06/15 07:30

Fuel poverty has become an area of concern as energy prices are rising. Combined with the poorer quality of our homes in the UK, struggling to afford energy bills has become a worrying reality to many. However, help is available to those struggling to pay their energy bills.

  • Those in debt - If you are in debt to your supplier, discuss your circumstances with them so that a suitable payment arrangements can be made.
  • If this cannot be arranged, suppliers are obliged to offer to install a prepayment meter to repay the debt and avoid disconnection. Suppliers are prohibited from disconnecting a premises occupied by a customer eligible for the Priority Service Register (below) during the winter months (1 October - 31 March).  In addition to this, many suppliers have signed up to a Safety Net, which offers further protection for vulnerable customers. This means suppliers will never knowingly disconnect vulnerable customers at any time of the year.
  • The government funded Energy Saving Advice Service provides information on energy efficiency measures, and many suppliers offer free or subsidised energy efficiency measures to customers.
  • Vulnerable groups - may also be able to access an annual rebate of £140 towards their electricity bill through the Warm Home Discount Scheme. Those who receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit qualify automatically, however certain other groups, such as those on low income, may be able to access the scheme through their supplier as part of their Broader Group help.
  • You can be added to your supplier’s Priority Service Register if you are of pensionable age, disabled or chronically sick. This will qualify you for certain free services, including quarterly meter readings services, bill nominee schemes and annual gas appliance safety checks for homeowners.
  • The ECO Affordable Warmth Scheme helps private householders in receipt of certain state benefits to make their homes more energy efficient. Funding is available for several measures, such as insulation and replacing inefficient boilers.
  • Free helpline - The Energy Retail Association, which represents energy suppliers, has set up the Home Heat Helpline (0800 33 66 99). It is a free national helpline for vulnerable customers having difficulties paying their fuel bills.
  • Elderly - Several options are available to the elderly. The Winter Fuel Payment is between £100-£300 tax free support towards heating bills for those born before 5th July 1951. To qualify for this support, you must receive the State Pension or another social security benefit excluding Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction or Child Benefit.
  • Switching providers or changing the way you pay for energy could save a considerable amount of money.

Wales and Scotland

  • The Welsh Government provide Nest, a fuel poverty scheme aimed at supporting those struggling to pay their fuel bills. Several free home improvements are available to those on means tested benefits in a privately owned or privately rented home with an energy efficiency rating of F or G.
  • The Energy Assistance Scheme is available to eligible consumers in Scotland.

More information on all these services can be found on the Ofgem website.

Topics: Fuel poverty, Energy, Bills, Energy efficiency

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