Money

Help paying higher energy bills

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.

By Callum Campbell · Published: March 8, 2022

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 from the Government and energy providers.

Increased bills from April 2022

The energy price cap will rise by unprecedented levels in April 2022, increasing annual bills for the average UK household by around £700. The Government has announced support for most households in the form of:

  • A £200 reduction in every household’s energy bill in October 2022. This reduction will be applied automatically and will act like a loan which will be paid back through your energy bills over the next five years. All households in the UK will receive the loan automatically.
  • A £150 discount in council tax for people who have homes in bands A to D. Eligible households in England, Scotland, and Wales should have already received this rebate .
  • A separate pot of £144m in funding has been announced to further support vulnerable households, including those on low incomes who do not pay council tax. Further details on how this funding will be distributed will be announced by your local council. To find your local council’s website, visit gov.uk/find-local-council

You do not have to apply for the £200 discount to energy bills or the £150 discount to council tax as these will automatically be put in place in most cases. Your council should contact you if you are eligible for a council tax rebate but do not pay council tax by direct debit.

The above support for households is in addition to the support outlined below.

Government schemes

Warm Home Discount

** Applications to the Warm Home Discount scheme have now closed **

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

** the Cold Weather Payment will not be available until next winter**

This payment is designed to support people if the average temperature in their area drops below zero degrees Celsius for seven consecutive days between the start of November and the end of March. 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 £200 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 if you are eligible.

Energy Payment Support Scheme (Northern Ireland only)

People who live in Northern Ireland and receive certain means tested benefits, including universal credit and income support, are entitled to a one off payment of £200 to help with their energy bills in 2022. Eligible people should have received their payment by now, and if you think you were eligible but did not receive your payment, it is important to make your enquiry before 31 May 2022.
Find out more by visiting the Government website >>

 

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 >>

You may be entitled to a rebate on your electricity bills if you have an oxygen concentrator installed in your home. Visit the Air Liquide website or the BOC website to find out more.

Citizen’s Advice have useful information about energy bills and where you can find support on their website >>

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

Last reviewed 16 May 2022

Next review due June 2022