Money

Help paying higher energy bills this winter

Many families experience increased, hidden costs when looking after their child with complex needs at home. These costs include more expensive energy bills. This guide lists the types of help available to families this winter.

By Callum Campbell · Published: October 14, 2021

house wrapped in a scarf on a radiator

The rise in energy prices affects families who have a child with complex needs more than most. Heating bills can be more expensive if someone in your household has limited mobility, and some medical equipment like ventilators use a massive amount of electricity. These extra costs cannot be avoided, however there is some support available this winter from the Government and energy providers.

Government schemes

Warm Home Discount

This is a £140 discount to your energy bill during the winter months. The scheme is run by the Government and participating energy providers. The Winter Home Discount is available to a “core group” of people who receive the state pension, and a “broader group” of people who meet the criteria set by their energy provider. For example, if you are a British Gas customer you will be eligible for the discount if you receive universal credit or income support and you have a child who has a disability. Many families who look after a child with complex needs will be eligible for the Warm Home Discount, and we encourage you to find out if your supplier is part of the scheme. Visit the Government website to find participating energy suppliers >>

Cold Weather Payment

This payment is designed to support people if the average temperature in their area drops below zero degrees Celsius for seven consecutive days during the winter. People eligible for a Cold Weather Payment in this event should receive the payment automatically. You should be eligible if you fit certain criteria, including if you:

  • Receive universal credit
  • Receive income support or income-related employment and support allowance, and you have a child who is disabled.

For more information about who is eligible, visit the Government website >>

Winter Fuel Payment

The Winter Fuel Payment is designed to support pensioners. You will receive a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you get a state pension. If you were born on or before 26 September 1955 you may be eligible to claim a Winter Fuel Payment of between £100 and £300. If you think you may be eligible, visit the Government website to make a claim >>

Child Winter Heating Assistance (Scotland only)

This new benefit is a payment of £200 to help with heating costs. It is only available to families who live in Scotland who have a disabled child or young person aged 17 or under. To qualify for the benefit, you must receive the highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance for children. You do not need to make an application for the benefit and should receive a letter informing you that you are eligible. The funds should then be paid to you automatically. For more information about Child Winter Heating Assistance, visit the Scottish Government’s website >>

Welsh Winter Fuel Support Scheme

People living in Wales who claim one of the following benefits will be eligible for a one-off payment of £100 to help with energy costs:

  • Income support
  • Income-based job seekers allowance
  • Employment and support allowance
  • Universal credit
  • Working tax credits

You should be contacted by your council soon if you are eligible.

 

Help with energy debt

With energy prices as high as they currently are, there is a danger that families will become unable to keep up with their bills and fall into debt. If you are worried about being able to afford energy this winter, ask for advice as soon as you can from organisations like Citizen’s Advice and National Debt Line. It is also worth contacting your energy supplier to discuss payment plans and other options.

Some energy providers have schemes to help their customers deal with debt. Each company that operates a scheme like this has different eligibility requirements. Check if your supplier has support for customers who are facing energy debt by looking at the list below or checking their website. Suppliers who have schemes include:

 

Other grants and useful organisations

There may be local charities and other organisations who can help you with your energy bills this winter. Visit Turn2Us to search for grants >>

The Fuel Bank Foundation is a charity dedicated to helping people who are struggling to pay their energy bills. Visit their website for information and advice >>

 

Priority Services Register

The Priority Services Register will allow your house to receive priority support in the unlikely event of power cuts occurring this winter. The charity Scope have an informative page about the Priority Services Register and how you can get your household added on their website here >>

In the event of a power cut to your home, call 105 to be connected to your local network operator’s emergency line.

 

Switching energy supplies

Changing energy supplier is normally the best way to save money. However, due to the current price surge, it is unlikely that you will make any savings by changing supplier right now. If the energy prices begin to fall in the future, it may be worth comparing tariffs and changing suppliers then. Comparing the prices of energy tariffs is quick and easy through Ofgem approved comparison websites, listed here >>

 

Energy saving tips

Using extra energy to properly care for your child with complex needs at home is unavoidable. However, there are some small changes that you can make to other parts of your home life that can help you save a bit on your bills. There are lots of energy saving guides available to help you do this, from organisations the Energy Saving Trust >>

Callum Campbell, Family Information Officer

callumcampbell@wellchild.org.uk

First published 16 November 2021

Next review due 6 December 2021