Short term vouchers from the Birmingham City Council can be used to help pay up to £49 in energy bill arrears. The city partners with a local fuel charity to provide this form of assistance. The amount of support is limited, and the council will only help residents as a last resort.
The vouchers can be used to pay for different types of fuel. If the family uses electric or natural gas, or if they use oil or another source, the vouchers can still be used. All of the big 6 suppliers, including British Gas and EDF, accept these grants as a form of payment. So the scheme is flexible in the number and type of people that can be assisted.
The local fuel charity as well as the Birmingham City Council will only provide funds to families that are out of all other options and are close to a disconnection. Applicants need to have asked their energy supplier for help before applying to this scheme. So they should explore payment plans or other relief before approaching the council.
Residents also need proof that this was done, and that their energy supplier either turned them down or maybe the amount of assistance given was not enough to keep their heat or electricity on. Just saying that effort was made is not good enough to qualify for a voucher.
Amount of energy assistance provided in Birmingham
Since at most only £49 is provided, this voucher scheme is for emergencies only. While it can help a family on a low income that is struggling to pay one of their fuel bills, it will not be a long term solution. This is one reason the council partners with a local charity as the client will often need additional advice on how to get back track. Or they will just be faced with a shut off of their lights again in the future.
To qualify for assistance, the applicant needs to be age 16 or older. Applicants can’t have any savings, and they also need to be on one of the following benefits of Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Guaranteed Pension Credit, Income-related Employment Support Allowance, or Universal Credit. The family in Birmingham must also have someone that is vulnerable living in the home, such as a child, a person over pension age, a disabled person, or some other vulnerable member.
Someone in the home also needs to have a mobile phone. This is required as the voucher for paying for the energy bill will be sent to a mobile phone. It will be a code that is transmitted. The client then needs to go to a PayPoint or Payzone outlet to claim the award.
Also the Birmingham emergency fuel bill voucher scheme is one time only. It is aimed at keeping the heat or lights on for a short period of time due to an emergency. It can in effect provide time to the client to find other forms of financial aid that they may need. The charity that is partnering with the council will not be able to make more than one payment for energy bill arrears in a 12 month period. For additional long term support, find other heating bill arrears schemes.
There are 5 different council run centres to apply at for vouchers or to learn of other programmes that can help with fuel bills. The list of them are here. https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/directory/28/customer_service_centres Note that this scheme is part of the larger local welfare grant schemes in Birmingham, so generally the same people that qualify for funds from welfare can be given extra help with their energy bills.