An effort is made to provide assistance for heating costs to individuals on a low income and to keep families warm during the winter. There are services provided by councils, charities, and the government, and most of the financial aid is provided to the vulnerable as well as households in fuel poverty that have no other resources available.
Customers can receive heating bill help from discounts, cash payments, and many other schemes that are aimed to keep a household’s heat on during the cold winter months. Some local authorities may also even provide grants to those facing a one time financial hardship, and some of the resources to apply to for heating bill help are below. It is also important for people to pay their provider on time, as if they do not, then the supplier can cut off their service.
Residents in fuel poverty can often be assisted by their county council as part of local welfare schemes. Any type of support for winter heating costs will come with restrictions and be limited, and this form of aid is not provided in all districts. Even if the council can’t assist the person or their family with their bills, then they can often refer the resident to some other local charity or national programme.
For the councils that do provide heating bill help as part of welfare, the assistance will normally come in the form of a credit on their account with their supplier or a pre-paid card may be provided. In either case, the local authority will only help with a portion of the cost, and the individual will need to take other actions such as entering into a payment plan with their fuel supplier, or ring a Citizens Advice Bureau for other advice. Government funds can be effective for those threatened with a heating crisis, and find help from welfare schemes.
The central government will provide discounts on heating bills to the low income as well, and this is done annually from the Warm Home Discount Scheme. The amount provided will change each year based on government rules, funding levels, and other factors, but is will generally range from £100 to £200 and will be paid between October and March.
The discount on heating expenses is provided by only some suppliers, such as EDF Energy, ScottishPower, First Utility, and about fifteen others, and they have their own rules on applying. Ring 0345 603 9439 to reach the customer support team to see if eligible, or call your provider and refer to the Warm Home Discount Scheme to see if they run it.
Fuel Direct or Third Party Deductions is when low income families use their benefits to pay gas or heating bills. In order to be able to do this, the person needs to be facing an exceptional one off hardship, and the JobCentre Plus needs to approve this form of payment.
There are only certain types of benefits that can be used for Fuel Direct, and they include Income Support, Pension Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, and Employment. What will happen is a deduction will be made from each benefit cheque sent to the household, and the money will be used for an arrears on heating costs. The fuel supplier also needs to be notified so they can set up a repayment plan.
Payments for cold weather can be issued by the government, and the funds can help households pay their heating bills during these periods. When the temperature is zero degrees Celsius or lower, than up to £25 can be provided to families with a low income that also currently receive other benefits. This is available from November to March of each year.
People that receive qualifying benefits, such as an older person on the Pension Credit, individuals on Universal Credit, or other income support allowances, will have the money deposited into their bank account at the time they receive their benefit check. The Cold Weather Payment is effective for helping to pay a portion of heating and gas costs when a household is faced with higher bills during cold periods. More information on this is provided at a local CAB or Jobcentre Plus office.
For those households that use heating oil (Kerosene or gas), there are assistance programmes for them too. Everything from price comparison websites to boiler repairs, charities, and the government may help. Both free oil and financial aid is out there. Find how to get heating oil help.
Free advice, assistance from payments plans and other support is provided from the Home Heat Helpline. Suppliers across the UK have created this service in an effort to help the vulnerable as well as families living in fuel poverty. Callers can get referrals to grant programmes, national government and local council schemes, information on charity resources, and more. Specialists can also help customers enter into payment plans for arrears on their heating bills, and people can ring 0800 33 66 99 to reach the helpline.
Free equipment or insulation, including heating systems, are available from the big 6 and government schemes. This can include boilers, extra insulation for homes of the vulnerable, oil, and entire heating systems for homes or flats. Installation is provided as well. Find more on free heating system schemes.
Older people can receive help from winter fuel payment or allowance. This central government funded programme can provide up to £300 for the payment of heating bills and arrears, and the funds will even usually arrive in time for Christmas. There are cutoff dates that change every year, but the payment is usually made for people over the age of 60.
The money is tax free, and the older the person is, the more financial assistance they may receive. While people should automatically receive their payment if they have applied in the past, if they are a new claimant or have questions, then the number to ring for more information on the fuel payment is 08459 15 15 15.
Donated or unused Winter Fuel Allowance funds can be provided to the elderly and vulnerable from Surviving Winter. Dozens of foundations across the UK raise money from people who do not use their entire allowance, and the funds are then redistributed to individuals facing an emergency. Or some people will contribute to the charity out of generosity. In either case, grants are offered for heating costs and gas bills in an effort to keep people warm. Learn how to apply, or donate to, the Surviving Winter charity heating bill organisation.
Energy savings are provided by the Green Deal. This scheme will assist low income families and individuals by making free improvements to their home, and the aim is to help people save money on their heating bills. The Green Deal can include things such as adding insulation, installing solar panels, glazing, and more. To learn more or apply, call Energy Savings Advice Service at 0300 123 1234, or residents in Scotland can dial 0808 808 2282.
Heating bill payment arrangements can be entered into. All suppliers will offer this option to households, as it is a requirement by the government. The plans will allow the struggling customer to pay off any arrears over a few to several weeks, however the terms need to be adhered too. If they are not, a prepayment meter will be used, and if that does not work, then as a last resort, the fuel company can disconnect the households heating service. Households on a low income can take this step, and learn how to enter into a payment arrangement for fuel bills.
All fuel suppliers do have the right to cut off electricity or gas if they are not paid. It is important to apply for help for heating bills when struggling, or customers should call their provider right away if they are having difficulty.
Families on a low income, the elderly, and others that are vulnerable have solutions available when it comes to paying heating bills and addressing an arrears. The schemes and benefits above can help, and people can also contact a Citizens Advice Bureau or their local council for free advice or referrals.