Woman wrapped up next to a radiator paying her energy bills on her mobile.

How to get help with gas and electric bills

author: Sarah Beresford

By Sarah Beresford

If you’re finding it difficult to cope with your gas and electric bills, you might feel like you’re on your own - but you can get help to keep you warm this winter.

Various schemes are run by the government and some energy suppliers to help people pay their gas and electric bills. You could be entitled to a one-off payment, or your supplier may be able to help you out. 

What happens if I can’t afford my gas and electricity? 

If you’re having problems affording your gas and electricity the first thing you should do is speak to someone about it. Your energy supplier or a debt adviser will be able to tell you what help you could be entitled to. This could include the supplier putting you onto a payment plan, or one-off payments from the government to help with gas and electric bills during the winter or even assistance with making your home more energy-efficient. 

Bear in mind though, that making reduced or missed payments may affect your credit score if your energy company reports this information to the credit reference agencies.

Are there any grants to help reduce energy bills? 

You may be eligible for a grant to improve the energy efficiency of your home. This could give you financial help to install loft insulation which will reduce your energy bills. But there are other ways you could receive help with your energy bills. 

Can Universal Credit help with electricity? 

You can’t receive extra Universal Credit to help with your energy bills but you can arrange for some of your bills to be paid directly from your benefits. This scheme is known as Fuel Direct, or third party deductions and could be useful if you’re having financial difficulties and want to ensure that important bills get paid. They’ll deduct 5% from your Universal Credit to go towards paying energy bills. This also works for other bills like rent, water bills and even fines. 

Winter Fuel Payment 

The Winter Fuel Payment is a one-off payment (between £100 and £300) to help you pay your heating bills over the winter. You’re eligible to receive it if you were born on or before 26th September 1955 and you lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 20th to 26th September 2021.  

You’ll receive it automatically if you get the State Pension or another social security benefit. If you don’t receive it automatically you can make a claim here. You could also receive it if you live abroad but conditions apply. 

Cold Weather Payment 

The Cold Weather Payment scheme helps people with their heating bills, if the temperature drops, or is forecast to drop below zero degrees for seven days or more. This year’s scheme starts on 1st November 2021, and you’ll receive £25 for each seven-day period. You could be eligible for the scheme if you receive any of the following: 

  • Pension Credit 
  • Income Support 
  • Jobseekers Allowance, Employment & Support Allowance 
  • Universal Credit 
  • Support for mortgage interest. 

Warm Home Discount Scheme 

This scheme, which starts on 18th October 2021, is a £140 discount that’s applied to your electricity or gas bill. It covers the period October to March. You could be eligible for the discount if you receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, or you meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme. 

Not all suppliers are part of this scheme but some of the big names have signed up to it including British Gas, Bulb, EDF, and Octopus. 

Is there help with gas and electric arrears? 

Yes, some energy suppliers have charitable trusts which can help you out if you’re having difficulty with your energy bill. The British Gas Energy Trust will help anyone, you don’t need to be a British Gas customer. The following companies will help their own customers: 

Bulb Energy Fund 

EDF Energy Support Fund 

E.On Energy Fund 

Ovo debt and energy assistance 

nPower Energy Fund 

Scottish Power Hardship Fund 

You will have to provide detailed financial information and be able to show that you’ve already sought debt advice. 

Find out where to go for debt advice. 

Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

author: Sarah Beresford

By Sarah Beresford

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Woman wrapped up next to a radiator paying her energy bills on her mobile. Woman wrapped up next to a radiator paying her energy bills on her mobile.