As we head into the winter period, energy prices are projected to continue rising, with suppliers collapsing due to high fuel prices. Tenants should be contacting their energy supply direct with any questions or concerns.
The government has set up some schemes designed to help vulnerable households with the cost of heating their home over the winter.
Warm Home Discount Scheme
Opening on 18 October 2021, tenants may be eligible to get up to £140 off their electricity bill during the 2021-2022 winter season under the new Warm Home Discount Scheme. This would not be a direct payment to tenants, but rather a one-off discount on their bill between October and March.
To be eligible, you will need to qualify in one of two ways. The first way is with the "Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit". Eligible tenants should receive a letter explaining how to get the discount.
If you are on a low income, you'll need to meet their energy supplier's criteria instead. Even tenants with a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go meter for their supply could benefit, you would simply receive a voucher if you were eligible. Each tenant should check if their energy supplier is part of the scheme and then check how to apply directly with their supplier.
Cold Weather Payment
Tenants could benefit from a Cold Weather Payment of £25 per day over a 7 day period, if the average temperature where they live is recorded as zero degrees celsius or below over those days, between 1 November and 31 March.
Tenants may be eligible for these payments if they receive:
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Support for Mortgage Interest
Eligible tenants won't need to apply, but will automatically receive these payments.
Winter Fuel Payment
For any elderly tenants born on or before 26 September 1955, they could receive an of £100 to £300 by 14 January 2022 to help pay their heating bills with a tax-free Winter Fuel Payment. If you fit this age bracket and also get the State Pension or another social security benefit that isn't Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit, or Universal Credit, this payment will be made automatically.
If you don't get either of those benefits but still meet the age criteria, you will need to make a claim by 31 March 2022 for winter 2021-2022. Once you've received your first payment, you will not need to reapply the following year, unless you defer your pension or move to Switzerland or an EEA country.
Grants from energy trusts
Tenants that find themselves in debt for their energy bills, may also be able to find financial support from charitable trusts, to help them pay it off. While tenants should check if there's a relevant trust through their current supplier, British Gas Energy Trust offers grants even to those who aren't British Gas customers.
Most trusts would need you to share detailed information about your financial situation, and demonstrate that you have received debt advice before you apply.
Household Support Fund
The government has also announced £500m in support to be made available to help vulnerable households across the UK with essential costs, as other means of financial support such as furlough ease. The funds will be shared with local councils in October 2021, which will have the responsibility of using this to share "small grants to meet daily needs such as food, clothing, and utilities". As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak said: "Everyone should be able to afford the essentials, and we are committed to ensuring that is the case."
The grants will be available over the winter and anyone wishing to claim the support should contact their local council to understand how they can access it.
This article is intended as a guide only. It is not exhaustive and does not constitute legal advice. For more information, please refer to gov.uk.