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Cost of living payments

With the cost of living having an impact on everyone's energy bills, it's important to understand what help is available and what cost of living payments you're eligible for.

Can I get help paying my energy bills?

If you're finding it hard to keep up with energy payments or you're worried you won't be able to afford the energy you need this winter, you might be entitled to financial support.

Warm Home Discount

This is a one-off payment to help with the cost of energy over winter. It's usually added as credit to your electricity bill. This winter (2022-23), it's rising from £140 to £150. It's likely you're entitled to this if you or your partner receive the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit.

We have more information about the Warm Home Discount scheme.

Winter Fuel Payment

You could be entitled to an annual one-off payment of £100-£300 depending on how old you are, who you live with and any benefits you receive. This year (2022-23), eligible households will get an extra £300 top-up to help with the cost of living. There's more information about this below. 

If you're over State Pension age - which is currently 66 years old - and receive the State Pension then you should be paid automatically. Payments are usually made between November and December.

We have more information about Winter Fuel Payments.

Not sure what you're entitled to?

Our handy benefits calculator can help you work out if you're missing out on money you should be getting. It only takes a few minutes to find out.

What other financial support is available?

The Government has announced measures to help with rising energy costs. 

Money off energy bills

All households in Britain will get £400 off their energy bills between October 2022 and March 2023. This is a grant, not a loan – so you don't have to pay this money back through future bills.

In most cases, it will be credited to electricity accounts automatically. If you pay by pre-payment meter it will either be credited to the meter or you will receive a voucher. A limited number of households may need to make enquiries or complete an application to access the scheme.

Council Tax rebate

Depending on the Council Tax band of property, you may be entitled to a non-repayable £150 from your council. Payments will be made from April and you'll need to make a claim unless you pay your bill via direct debit, in which case you'll be paid automatically. Find out more about the Council Tax rebate. 

One-off payments

This year (2022-23), you may also be entitled to one or more lump-sum payments. These are:

  • a £300 Pensioner Cost of Living Payment for households that receive the Winter Fuel Payment. This is a top-up to your Winter Fuel Payment in November/December. 
  • a £650 Cost of Living Payment for households on means-tested benefits, such as Pension Credit and Universal Credit. You'll be paid in two instalments if eligible. Your eligibility for the first instalment will depend on whether you were entitled to certain benefits – Universal Credit, income-based JSA, income-related ESA, Income Support or Pension Credit – between 26 April 2022 and 25 May 2022. 
  • a £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment for those receiving disability benefits, such as Attendance Allowance. To get this payment in September, you must have a successful claim for a disability benefit in progress on 25 May 2022.

None of these payments are taxable and they won't count towards the benefit cap or affect your benefit entitlement.

Household Support Fund 

This is a payment to help those considered most in need with the rising cost of food, energy and water bills. Each local council decide their own eligibility criteria – though money should be specifically set aside for older people. Contact your council if you want to know more. 

If you're eligible for any of the payments listed above you'll be paid automatically, in most circumstances. You shouldn't be contacted and asked to apply or asked for any personal details. If you are contacted, this might be a scam. Find out more about spotting and reporting scams

Not receiving means-tested benefits?

If you're not currently claiming means-tested benefits, such as Pension Credit, it's worth putting in a claim as soon as possible. 

You may find you're eligible for the second instalment of the Cost of Living Payment, or, if your Pension Credit is 'backdated' to 25 May or before, the entire amount. When making a claim, you should request backdating on the claim form as it won't be done automatically. It's important to act quickly as Pension Credit can only be backdated for up to 3 months.

If you want to know more, use our online benefits calculator or call the advice line on 0800 678 1602.

Can I get support from my energy supplier?

If you're finding it difficult to keep up with energy bills or you owe money to your energy supplier, your supplier has a duty to help.

You can ask your energy supplier for:

  • a review of your payments or debt repayments
  • payment breaks or reductions
  • more time to pay your bills
  • access to hardship funds
  • Priority Service registration.

You may be able to register for Priority Services depending on your circumstances, this includes if you're over State Pension age or you're living with a disability. This gives you access to a range of support, including priority assistance in an emergency, advance notice of planned power cuts and help with prepayment meter access. 

Some energy suppliers have their own special funding schemes or provide support through national schemes such as the Energy Company Obligation. These provide a range of financial support, debt relief, energy advice, and the installation of energy efficiency improvements which can help lower your bills.

Check with your supplier to see what support you might be entitled to.

What do I do if my energy supplier goes bust?

When an energy supplier goes bust, Ofgem assigns a new supplier to take over your account. You don't need to worry, your gas and electricity supply will continue regardless of what happens to your supplier.

Your new supplier should provide you with information about what is happening with your account. But this process can take a few weeks. 

It's worth keeping hold of or downloading copies of your latest energy bills and take photos of your latest meter readings for reference. 

Any customers that were in debt with their previous supplier will still have to repay this and any customers who had been in credit with their supplier should receive a refund. 

You can find more information about which energy suppliers have been affected and who's taking over those accounts.

You should seek advice if you're looking to switch because your supplier has gone bust, as there are considerations if your account was in credit, or if you usually receive the Warm Home Discount. 

Why are energy prices going up?

Increased global demand and wider geopolitical factors have seen the prices of gas increase. This has led some energy suppliers to go bust. 

As a result, Ofgem, the energy regulator, has increased the energy price cap from 1 April 2022. This means customers have a certain level of protection against the rising energy prices, as energy suppliers will only be able to charge default tariff customers so much per unit (kWh) of energy.

However, bills will go up substantially for lots of households. On average, default tariff bills are expected to increase by £693 for the year. For those using a prepayment meter, the average increase will be around £708.

There are fewer tariffs on offer than usual, and switching might not save you any money. It's important to seek impartial advice before switching, for example from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service

Need some more information?

If you need some more information about how you can save money on your bills we've got you covered. 

Save energy, pay less information guide

Winter wrapped up information guide 

Help with heating costs factsheet

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Last updated: Aug 03 2022

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