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Government help for energy bills

With the cost of living having an impact on everyone's energy bills, understanding what help is available and which cost of living payments you're eligible for may help ease some of your worry.

What ongoing financial support is available?

If you're finding it hard to keep up with energy price increases 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 (2023-24), it'll be £150. You're entitled to this if you or your partner receive the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit or if you're on certain qualifying benefits and have high energy costs.

Find out more 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 (2023-24), 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.

Find out more about Winter Fuel Payments

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. 

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 Age UK advice line on 0800 678 1602.

Can I get help paying my energy bills?

Certain households may be eligible to get help from the Government to pay their energy bills.

One-off payments

This year (2023-24), 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 £900 Cost of Living Payment split into 3 payments for households on a qualifying means-tested benefit.
  • a £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment for those receiving disability benefits, such as Attendance Allowance. 

The qualifying means-tested benefits for the Cost of Living Payments are:

  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit.

Exact payment windows are announced closer to the time but are being spread across a longer period to ensure a consistent support offering throughout the year. They are broadly as follows:

  • £301 – First Cost of Living Payment – during Spring 2023
  • £150 – Disability Cost of Living Payment – during Summer 2023 
  • £300 – Second Cost of Living Payment – during Autumn 2023 
  • £300 – Pensioner Cost of Living Payment – during Winter 2023/4
  • £299 – Third Cost of Living Payment – during Spring 2024
    If individuals are eligible, they should be paid automatically and there'll be no need to apply.

To be eligible for the Second Cost of Living payment (during Autumn 2023), you must have been entitled to a qualifying means-tested benefit between 18 August and 17 September 2023. If you qualify, you should receive the £300 payment automatically between 31 October and 19 November 2023. 

To be eligible for the Third Cost of Living Payment (during Spring 2024), you must have been entitled to a qualifying means-tested benefit between 13 November and 12 December 2023. If you qualify, you should receive the £299 payment automatically between Tuesday 6 February and Thursday 22 February 2024.

You can report a missing Cost of Living Payment online on GOV.UK or by calling the helpline for your qualifying benefit.

    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, gas and electric, 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, avoiding and reporting scams

Are you entitled to extra money?

Do you know what benefits you're entitled to? Our Benefits Calculator can help you, quickly and easily, to find out what you could be claiming.

What support can I get 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 if you're living with a disability. The Priority Services Register 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 and meter readings. 

Find out more about the Priority Services Register on the Ofgem website

Each energy supplier and network operator has its own Priority Services Register. You can register with both by phone or, for some companies, you can register online.

Find your energy supplier and your network operator on the Ofgem website

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 other ways are the Government helping with energy costs?

The Government has some measures in place to limit how much people have to spend on their energy bills. 

Price cap on energy bills

The price cap applies to most households in Britain and it aims to protect customers by setting a maximum amount that suppliers can charge per unit of energy. However, it's important to note that bills are still based on your usage, so you may pay more or less than the price cap level. 

The cap is reviewed every 3 months, so it may change – you can check the current price cap level on the Ofgem website using the link below.

Find out more about the energy price cap on the Ofgem website

Energy Price Guarantee

The Energy Price Guarantee provided further support with energy bills from October 2022 to June 2023, by placing a limit on what energy suppliers could charge households for their energy while prices were particularly high. In July 2023, it rose from £2,500 to £3,000 per year for a 'typical' household. 

The Energy Price Guarantee will continue until the end of March 2024. It will act as a safety net, applying to bills if energy prices rise above £3,000 per year. 

Phone icon We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local Age UKs.

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Last updated: Apr 08 2024

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